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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

When you don’t care what the haters are saying about your favorite team.

—The U of L women’s team is a No. 1 seed in ESPN’s first Bracketology of 2018.

—The third-ranked Cards will take on No. 17 Duke Thursday night and drinks at the Yum Center will be just three bucks.

—This photo is unbelievable.

—A bunch of former players want Kenny Payne to be Louisville’s next head basketball coach. I do not.

It’s nothing personal, I just don’t think that, given Louisville’s current situation, the next face of the program needs to be a guy known primarily for his recruiting prowess thanks in large part to being deeply intrenched with Nike. Also, he’s never been a head coach before. Double also, Calipari assistants have by and large turned out to be awful head coaches.

I get why a group of former players would feel this way, I just don’t think it’s the play right now. Remember that a lot of former players were furious that Jerry Eaves didn’t get the job in 2001. That wasn’t the play back then either.

—Ratings for both College Football Playoff games were way up this year. It’s almost like playing the games on New Year’s Day makes way, way, way more sense than playing them on New Year’s Eve, but I’m sure this is the first time anyone’s pointed that out.

—Louisville cracked the top 10 markets for the Sugar Bowl.

—The +/- numbers say that Louisville is a better basketball team when just one member of the Anas Mahmoud/Ray Spalding frontcourt is on the floor.

In five games against high-profile opponents — at Purdue, Seton Hall, Indiana, at Kentucky and Pittsburgh — Louisville has played Mahmoud and Spalding together for 58:01, used only one of the two for 107:53 and left both on the bench for 34:06.

In those games, the Cards are minus-17 with both big men on the floor, minus-10 with neither and plus-22 with one in the game.

In Louisville’s best outcome of those games, Padgett used Mahmoud or Spalding, but not both, for almost 36 of 40 minutes on Tuesday. In that time, the Cards outscored Pittsburgh, 70-43, deviating from that strategy only for two possessions early in the second half and for almost four minutes of relief at the end of the blowout.

Asked afterward about utilizing a smaller lineup, Padgett said Tuesday that the game plan depends on the matchup with the opponent. Pittsburgh’s second-tallest starter was 6-foot-6 Shamiel Stevenson. Louisville countered with Williams, Deng Adel or even Dwayne Sutton at the “4” position.

“They played four guards, so we were able to play with a smaller lineup,” Padgett said. “… It’s going to be a game-by-game thing, depending on lineups. There are teams that are bigger; there are teams that are smaller. You just have to take it game-by-game.”

—For a third straight year, former Louisville offensive lineman Joe Jacoby is a finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame.

—Don’t make the same mistake Nick did.

--Scott Davenport is nearing his 300th win as Bellarmine’s head coach thanks to a detailed and superstitious approach.

—The Sporting News’ Eric Galko breaks down the latest he’s been hearing about draft-eligible quarterbacks, including Lamar Jackson.

Is Lamar Jackson an NFL quarterback? The short answer is yes. Enough teams have liked and continue to like him at the position.

You’ll see lots of people reporting from sources begin to switch more definitively to Jackson as a quarterback. But not every team likes Jackson as a quarterback. Enough scouts have gone through the program, spoken with coaches and echoed similar concerns of offense complexity, his vocal ability as an offensive leader and his confidence when responsibilities grow. Drafting a quarterback is about trust, and Jackson will enter the draft process needing to establish trust in his ability to handle an NFL offense.

—Bellarmine and U of L women’s basketball have combined to make this the “city of unbeatens” heading into 2018.

—Here’s a quick recap of the first half of the ACC women’s basketball season, featuring Asia Durr.

—Donovan Mitchell would love to be invited to the NBA Slam Dunk contest. I think he’d probably settle for an All-Star nod as well.

—Donovan talks with Michael Rapaport about what he learned from Rick Pitino.

—U of L baseball had a collective 3.0 GPA or higher for the 13th straight semester.

—This read on former NBA stars returning to the college game as head coaches at small schools is very entertaining.

—Congrats to Jonathan.

—It’s comforting to hear that Ryan McMahon and Quentin Snider had a heart-to-heart after the Kentucky game.

Ryan McMahon and Quentin Snider sat in their room on campus Friday night and talked.

The Louisville guards talked about their embarrassment after a 90-61 rout at the hands of archrival Kentucky earlier that day. They talked about what went wrong “and what went really wrong,” McMahon said. They talked about how they, as veterans on the team, needed to be better leaders.

Then they resolved to help their team bounce back from the worst loss in the in-state rivalry since 1999.

”It was a long night,” McMahon said, “but I’m just glad we came out (Tuesday) and played a lot better.”

Tuesday was when Louisville blasted Pittsburgh, 77-51, to begin Atlantic Coast Conference play. Tuesday was also when Louisville (11-3, 1-0 ACC) played its most complete game of the season in what had unexpectedly become its most important game of the season, at least from an emotional standpoint.

—Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton is a freak and I really enjoy watching him play basketball. That’s my analysis. Ricky O’Donnell dives a little deeper.

—Butler Blue III giving no f—ks in 2018.

—Trae Young is appointment viewing and one of the most exciting players college basketball has had in the past decade. I wrote some words about why he’s cool.

—This might be the first C-J column I’ve ever seen with “dick” in the opening sentence. Also I don’t think he’s doing the Felicia thing right.

—Some sights and sounds from the win over Pitt.

—SI has 18 things we learned from the first weekend of conference play. There are a couple of Louisville mentions. They are not kind.

—Yes, I saw the “report” from yesterday about Lamar Jackson leaning towards returning to school. I also saw that it said the same thing about Sam Darnold. I further saw that hours later Darnold announced that he was leaving for the NFL. So no, I don’t think anyone should be taking it seriously.

—This is art.

—247 Sports says don’t overthink it, Lamar Jackson should be a top 10 pick.

—How has Georgia football caught up with ‘Bama? This thorough examination by Yahoo is pretty interesting.

—Props to the young man on mastering the left-handed L at such a young age.

—Georgia Tech upset Miami last night, making it painfully apparent that Josh Pastner tanked the non-conference portion of the season to give himself a better shot at repeating as ACC Coach of the Year. Veteran move.

—In other ACC news from last night, Clemson, Louisville’s next opponent, held on for a road win over Boston College. Florida State extended its home court winning streak to 28 games with a thrilling win over North Carolina. The Seminoles will put the streak on the line again next Wednesday when the Cards come to Tallahassee.

—This is comforting.

—Terry Rozier continued the recent trend of former Louisville guards giving it to LeBron James and the Cavs last night. Terry came off the bench to score 20 points in 20 minutes to lead the Celtics to a decisive win.

—Damian Lillard with some love for Donovan.

—Marquette guard Markus Howard tied a Big East record by dropping 52 points last night.

—UCF is claiming a national title, throwing itself a parade, and paying its coaches national championship bonuses. I am 100 percent in support of this.

—Ted Valentine is the worst. This is ridiculous.

—Nick Saban is 11-0 against former assistants. Kirby Smart is next.

—Probably the coolest thing that happened at the TaxSlayer Bowl:

—Rick Pitino thinks Kevin Stallings is a jackass.

—And finally, Eric Crawford has a good look at the U of L women’s team’s hot start and tonight’s Yum Center showdown between the Cards and Duke.