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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Garrett Bishop is ready to cheer the Cards onto victory over the Cats from down in Alabama.

I_medium Scout updated its class of 2018 rankings today, and Louisville commits Courtney Ramey and Anfernee Simons check in at No. 19 and No. 27, respectively. Romeo Langford, for those interested, is No. 5.

Cards are gonna be good for a while, y'all.

I_medium Bounce.

I_medium If you're looking for more information on the Purdue team that Louisville will face on the hardwood this winter, here's a solid primer.

I_medium Eric Bossi and Corey Evans of 247 Sports debate what the best college basketball job outside of the "six bluebloods" is, and talk Louisville vs. Michigan State. Never mind that Louisville has more of a blueblood claim than Indiana at this point.

First, I'll explain why I think Louisville is one of the nation's best jobs.

Even though many in the state of Kentucky favor the University of Kentucky, the Louisville fanbase is as good as they come. Rick Pitino's Cardinals play in a state of the art arena that is always full, they have top-notch practice facilities, and their budget and resources are never a concern. Louisville also has a rich tradition. It appeared in 10 Final Fours - three of them under Pitino - and the program has won three national titles. Louisville has name and brand recognition that allows it to recruit regionally and nationally, and the proof is in the results. Since 2010, 27 of the 32 players to commit to Louisville out of high school have been ranked as four-star or better prospects. On top of all of that, the emergence of the football program has no doubt helped with the athletic program's overall exposure and brand.

Neck-and-neck with Louisville for me is Michigan State. Much of it has to do with the job Tom Izzo has done in turning the Spartans into a national power. Yes, the Spartans won their first of two NCAA National Championships in 1979 while Jud Heathcote was the coach and some guy named Earvin Johnson was running the show. But, it's the seven Final Fours and seven Big Ten conference titles won under Izzo that have defined Michigan State as a program built on toughness, hard work and consistent results. Much like Louisville, at Michigan State the fan support, facilities and resources are not an issue. Most critically, Izzo has dominated recruiting in the state of Michigan while also having great success in surrounding states such as Ohio and Indiana. Consider this: In 13 of the last 16 recruiting classes (2002-2017), Michigan State has landed at least one four-star or better prospect from Michigan while its rival Michigan only landed a four-star or better prospect from within the state's borders in five of 16 years.

I_medium The story of Oregon State's ace pitcher's history as a sex offender is just now coming to light, and it's fairly disturbing.

I_medium Firing Thad Matta in June seemed like a bad idea at the time. It looks like an even worse idea with every potential replacement in the country seeming to come out and turn the Buckeyes down. Creighton's Greg McDermott is the latest to say he's not going anywhere, so who's next?

I_medium How does Rick Pitino explain landing Brian Bowen at the 11th hour? Luck.

Bowen didn't include Louisville on any of his five official visits, and practically every recruiting analyst didn't have the ACC program associated with the talented wing as his decision day loomed.

"We got lucky on this one," Pitino told Terry Meiners of News Radio 840. "I had an AAU director call me and ask me if I'd be interested in a player (Bowen). I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said 'Yeah, I'd be really interested.' They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I say him play. In my 40 years of coaching this is the luckiest I've been."

Landing any five-star player would be a huge recruiting win for any program, but Bowen's ability to shoot from beyond the arc will certainly help a Louisville team that lacked in that area last season.

I_medium ESPN looks at who might be the 2017 ACC football standouts that no one is talking about. No Cardinals are mentioned.

I_medium Sitting in the UK student section wearing a "Got Pitino" shirt when Elvis did this is still one of my greatest college accomplishments.

I_medium Thirteen of the 16 teams left in the NCAA baseball tournament have combined for 101 College World Series appearances. The other three, including Kentucky, have never been.

I_medium These are pretty sweet.

I_medium Louisville native Richard Ballard netted the game-winner for Louisville City FC Wednesday night at Slugger Field.

I_medium The Lexington Herald-Leader says the pressure this weekend is on Louisville, not Kentucky.

I_medium The people's horse indeed.

I_medium Minor League Ball profiles Brendan McKay.

I_medium The Kentucky Kernel previews this weekend's dream series.

I_medium D1 Baseball does the same, and gives Louisville the edge in every category except for offense.

Starting Pitching: Louisville has one of the most accomplished aces of this era in Brendan McKay, a an accomplished strike-throwing Saturday guy in Kade McClure, and a rising star freshman lefty in Sunday starter Nick Bennett. Kentucky's Sean Hjelle/Justin Lewis/Zack Thompson is also quite good — all of these guys have good stuff, but Louisville's group has been a bit more consistent, leading a pitching staff that ranks third in the nation in ERA. And Louisville's rotation is fresher, because Kentucky's run through the losers' bracket taxed its arms a bit. Edge: Louisville.

Bullpen: Kentucky's Logan Salow/Chris Machamer duo is formidable, and Zach Logue's move to the pen gives the Wildcats a valuable swing man. But Louisville has one of the nation's most dominant closers in Lincoln Henzman, plus a deeper supporting cast led by Sam Bordner, Adam Elliott, Adam Wolf and Jake Sparger. Edge: Louisville.

Offense: These are two very good, deep, versatile, powerful lineups that have been extremely prolific. Louisville ranks 20th in the nation in scoring, but Kentucky ranks 15th, and also ranks inside the top 10 in batting, slugging, OBP, doubles and walks. UK is a bit more explosive, and more disciplined. Edge: Kentucky.

Defense: The Cardinals are just a few points ahead in the fielding percentage department (.975 to .972), but that doesn't tell the whole story. Louisville has premium defenders at shortstop (Devin Hairston) and center field (Logan Taylor), while Kentucky's middle infield has had occasional lapses. Evan White, perhaps the nation's best defensive first baseman, does save the UK infield plenty of errors, however. Edge: Louisville.

Experience/Intangibles: These are both veteran-laden clubs, but Louisville obviously has more postseason experience, having played in five straight supers. Of course, the Cardinals have experienced heartbreak in each of the last two supers — that could either be a good thing that motivates them and keeps them focused, or it could spook them in a tight spot. We're betting on the former. Kentucky, however, showed great resilience by coming back through the losers' bracket to win its regional. This is a close one, but we'll give the edge to the home team with more postseason experience. Edge: Louisville.

I_medium Donovan Mitchell continues to emerge as a draft candidate for the Knicks.

I_medium Louisville closer Lincoln Henzman is a finalist for the Stopper of the Year award.

I_medium And finally, another solid preview piece on this weekend's big series from the Omaha World-Herald.