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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Finn O’Sullivan said he wanted to look like Lamar Jackson for Christmas this year, and I think he pulled it off.

—At approximately 10:35 a.m. this morning, the annual switch was flipped. Christmas mode was turned all the way off. Beat Kentucky mode was turned all the way on.

Let’s go.

—We’ll be putting up a “Where We’re Watching” post for the game on Friday afternoon, so if you’re out of the area and watching Louisville-Kentucky with fellow Cardinal fans on Saturday, send me the location at MikeRuth5@aol.com and I’ll be sure to put it in the post.

—Officials for Saturday: Ron Groover, Jeff Clark, Pat Driscoll.

—Announcers for Saturday: Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst), Dan Dakich (sideline analyst).

—I think this is the third UK player to express this sentiment in 2018.

—Louisville transfer Lance Thomas is still waiting for the NCAA to clear him at Memphis State.

—Rick Pitino has arrived in Greece to begin his new gig.

—Louisville’s Ayieisha McFerran is one of five finalists for the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) Female Goalkeeper of the Year Award.

—Jonathan Greenard has officially announced his intention to transfer.

—U of L makes the final 10 for 5-star LB Reggie Grimes.

—Male High WR Izayah Cummings has the potential to be a major national recruit.

—Scott Satterfield’s best offenses have been built around reinvention, which is good news for Louisville fans.

—Can’t get enough of feel-good Christmas videos.

And then also these:

—U of L has announced that it will make a special announcement regarding its men’s soccer program on Thursday, Dec. 27 at noon. One would have to guess that said announcement will have to do with the program’s next head coach.

—Why are there so many bowl games and why don’t certain people want an expanded College Football Playoff? Look at the case of the Outback Bowl’s Jim McVay, who runs one amateur game a year and gets paid more than a million dollars to do it.

—Computer numbers update for Louisville basketball ...

NET: No. 17

Ken Pom: No. 38

Sagarin: No. 27

—Aaron Yarmuth writes in LEO Weekly about the start of a new era for the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry.

—We’ve now got the boss from Christmas Vacation on our side.

—Three Louisville restaurants received four stars from the CJ in 2018.

—Louisville is No. 29 in the latest installment of Andy Katz’s Power 36 rankings.

—NCAA.com likes the Cats over the Cards by five.

Kentucky-Louisville: Preview, prediction

Since losing to Duke by 34 points in the first game of the season, Kentucky (9-2) has started to round into form by winning nine of its next 10. Sure, the Wildcats lost to Seton Hall, 84-83, on Dec. 8, but they are coming off an impressive 80-72 win against then-No. 9 North Carolina in Chicago.

The surging Wildcats also have recent series history on their side, as they’ve defeated the Cardinals in five of the last six games. That includes a win in the Sweet 16 in the 2014 NCAA tournament.

Last year, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 24 points as the ‘Cats routed the Cardinals in Lexington, Ky., 90-61. PJ Washington added 16 points.

In Kentucky’s win against North Carolina on Saturday, Washington scored 11 points and added 10 rebounds to complete the double-double.

As for Louisville, Jordan Nwora is the Cardinals’ only double-digit scorer at 17.8 points per game. Nwora has also taken 21 percent of Louisville’s shots.

The Cardinals (9-3) are certainly battle tested just like the Wildcats. Louisville lost to ranked teams Tennessee, Marquette and Indiana but also defeated ranked Michigan State.

Louisville will be rocking and ready for the ‘Cats. But Kentucky might have just enough late to hold off the Cardinals.

Our prediction: Kentucky 80, Louisville 75.

—Three Clemson players, including star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, have failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs and won’t play in the national semifinal game against Notre Dame.

—Also:

—Louisville makes the “others to watch for” section in Busting Brackets’ power rankings.

—Bowls are back. Here’s the docket for today:

FIRST RESPONDER BOWL
Boston College vs. Boise State
1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Cotton Bowl, Dallas.
The line: Boise State by 2 (Westgate Superbook)

QUICK LANE BOWL
Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech
5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ford Field Detroit.
The line: Georgia Tech by 5.5

CHEEZ-IT BOWL
California vs. TCU
9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Chase Field Phoenix.
The line: California by 1

—Born in BBN country, U of L point guard Christen Cunningham suddenly finds himself in the middle of the state’s biggest rivalry.

—Dude is gonna be awesome.

—Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson is officially in the transfer portal. Another name to keep an eye on.

—David Johnson and Trinity are back in the Arby’s Classic this week.

—Shockingly, media members who cover Kentucky expect the Wildcats to beat Louisville on Saturday.

“I think Kentucky is much more physical, has a much more physical presence inside,” Kevin Willard said. “I think Louisville shoots the basketball much better.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari paid attention quickly to what first-year Louisville coach Chris Mack was doing with the Cardinals.

“They’re playing extremely hard. Like these dudes are fighting to win games. Their coach is holding them accountable. He doesn’t care about names. That is going to be a really hard game for us to win,” Calipari said several weeks ago on his weekly radio show.

Will Kentucky win? That was the overwhelming assumption when the season started. Now it is not as clear cut, so I asked several media members who cover UK basketball who they think wins Saturday and how their perception of the matchup has changed since the season started.

“I’ll take the Wildcats based on their bigs. I think Reid Travis and PJ Washington will present some serious matchup issues for the Cardinals. UofL did beat a Michigan State team with a strong inside game but missed free throws hurt the Spartans and that’s been a strength for Kentucky thus far,” Tom Leach, play-by-play voice of the UK Radio Network, said.

Kentucky Sports Radio’s Tyler Thompson and Ryan Lemond also both think Kentucky will win.

—It still sounds like Jordan Travis to Florida State is going to happen.

—Big Red Louie says that despite his poor senior season, Jaylen Smith still has a bright future.

—Your boy is quoted in this story from the Herald-Leader, which says Chris Mack has Louisville on track ahead of schedule.

—Bryson Tiller is a good dude.

—And finally, we’re getting Battle of the Bluegrass week kicked off this afternoon from 3-6 on 790.