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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Ryann Elizabeth and Lillian Rose can't contain their excitement over Louisville's return to the big dance.

I_medium Spread check: Louisville by 18.

I_medium I'm live blogging today's games over at at the mothership. You can follow along here.

I_medium When your team's about to play an NCAA tournament game for the first time in two years.

I_medium Rick Pitino's winning percentage in the NCAA tournament is higher than his regular season winning percentage. That always makes Louisville an unenviable draw.

I_medium Donovan Mitchell was upset this time a year ago. He's not upset anymore.

"It got me mad," Mitchell said. "It hurt last year, but it definitely added fuel to the fire."

Mitchell, now a standout sophomore guard for Louisville, wasn't alone in his journey through a forest of varying emotions last year.

Coach Rick Pitino ignored the annual NCAA selection show and only tuned in to the tournament when Villanova, coached by Pitino's friend Jay Wright, reached the Final Four. Anas Mahmoud, a junior center who played in the Big Dance as a freshman, said he didn't watch the first two weeks of the NCAA Tournament because the feelings was too raw, too sad. Quentin Snider, the team's resident basketball junkie and starting point guard, couldn't look away, watching all the games in his dormitory room or at his family's Louisville house, sorely missing the experience he had during his freshman season.

A year later, Louisville (24-8) enters the NCAA Tournament on an entirely different planet of emotions. The Cards are annoyed they lost in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament because they thought they could win the event. They are frustrated by their free-throw shooting woes and determined to fix them. But above all else, they are supremely confident after winning 24 games against the second-toughest schedule in college basketball, and they are eager to replace the painful memories of last March with joyful ones.

I_medium This is pretty much the worst sign I've ever seen in my entire life.

I_medium Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel says Indiana is facing both a men's basketball coaching vacancy and an identity crisis in the wake of Tom Crean's firing.

I_medium This is a huge wardrobe day for everyone. Not only are you trying to figure out the best route for today, you also have to be thinking ahead in the event that the Cards continue to advance and you may be experiencing some warmer climates in KC, Phoenix or just in Louisville.

It's also a little rough for those who can't get out of work or school. I see you workin' though.

I_medium Indianapolis is the place to be this week for the area's major college hoops powerhouses, but the Lexington Herald-Leader says someone is missing. Who? You guessed it, DePaul.

I_medium Hotwire found that these tournament fan bases searched for more travel data related to their teams than any others:

  1. Butler University: This school may be small in size, but it's certainly mighty. Butler fans searched almost twice as much as any other school for game destinations, solidifying the number one spot for most dedicated fans.
  2. Marquette University: Marquette fans are clearly passionate about supporting their men's basketball team, solidifying the number two spot.
  3. University of California, Los Angeles: UCLA is notorious for having big sports fans, and our data seems to agree.
  4. University of Louisville: Sliding into the number four slot is University of Louisville. While University of Kentucky fans pride themselves on being huge basketball fans, turns out University of Louisville fans are actually the most dedicated fans in Kentucky.
  5. Southern Methodist University: Coming in at the number five spot, the SMU men's basketball team is
  6. certain to have a big cheering section for the first round.

I_medium U of L Card Game says the Courier-Journal might cover Louisville and Kentucky athletics the same, but off the field and courts is another issue.

I_medium Your unbeaten Louisville baseball team hosts a three-game set with Boston College that begins today.

I_medium Outfit 100% on point for both major holidays today.

I_medium U of L's Friday softball game has been pushed back to 4.

I_medium Good tweet.

I_medium Congratulations to Mangok Mathiang, who is one of 181 athletes nominated for the Allstate NABC Good Works Team for his community service work.

I_medium Have a day, Patrick.

I_medium NC State is moving quickly, as Jeff Goodman reports that they're already planning to interview Kevin Keatts just a day after his Wilmington team was beaten in the NCAA tournament.

I_medium I read this as a guarantee that in 34 years Richard Pitino will be in the Hall of Fame.

I_medium Rick Pitino talked about Luke Kennard letting the game to him last week, something Donovan Mitchell says he needs to do more of.

I_medium Twenty-three Louisville area executives share their March Madness predictions.

I_medium Cards in Indy.

I_medium The ACC is off to a strong start in the big dance.

I_medium Donovan Mitchell: Still capable of dunking.

Also loves the kids.

I_medium Your U of L game notes for today.

I_medium Players interviewing other players is one of my favorite March traditions.

I_medium Sam Vecenie's new NBA Draft big board is here.

I_medium This is a tweet-heavy N&N, but there's a lot of good stuff out there. It's tournament time.

I_medium The New York Daily News examines how a baseball injury helped Donovan Mitchell land at Louisville.

I_medium This gambling website likes the Cards to cover today.

I_medium And finally, beat Jacksonville State.