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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Sometimes you gotta rock the 2018 holiday gifts before the 2019 weight plan kicks in.

—In its ACC midseason reset write-up, NBC predicts Louisville will make the NCAA tournament.

—The ACC season actually kicked off yesterday with No. 10 Virginia Tech beating Notre Dame by 15.

There are no actual league games tonight, but three teams from the conference are in action:

No. 15 North Carolina vs. Harvard (7 p.m./ESPN2)

Wake Forest vs. Cornell (7 p.m./ACCNE)

Georgia Tech vs. USC Upstate (7:30 p.m./ACCNE)

—Tyler Trent, the 20-year-old Purdue student whose fight against cancer inspired so many over the past few months, passed away on Tuesday. Here’s a great tribute from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

—Jordan Nwora gets a Third Team nod in The Athletic’s midseason ACC awards post.

All-ACC Third Team

Tre Jones, point guard, Fr., Duke

Markell Johnson, point guard, Jr., NC State

Marcquise Reed, guard, Sr., Clemson

Jordan Nwora, forward, So., Louisville

Luke Maye, forward, Sr., North Carolina

Others will have bigger numbers than Jones and Johnson, but they are absolutely essential to their teams’ success. You have to watch Jones’ intense defense, sky-high basketball IQ and happily deferential passing skills to understand his value. Johnson is averaging only 22 minutes per game, but his offensive efficiency numbers are off the charts. Reed and Maye have started slowly by their lofty standards but nevertheless, offer tremendous value. Nwora looks like the most-improved player in the conference.

Chris Mack got an honorable mention for Midseason Coach of the Year, which went to former Cardinal assistant Kevin Keatts of NC State.

—Lamar Jackson is the seventh choice in Vegas to be the Super Bowl MVP.

—Reggie Bonnafon has signed a reserve-future contract with the Carolina Panthers. The deal means that Reggie will be a part of Carolina’s training camp roster.

—James Burgess has signed the same deal with the Miami Dolphins.

—The Pac-12 is facing a crisis as a conference.

—Love it.

Also this:

—Rich Rod is the new offensive coordinator at Ole Miss because of course he is.

—The latest college football S&P ratings have Louisville holding steady at No. 107.

—Jeff Greer reevaluates (ATHLETIC LINNNKKKK) Louisville following the disappointing effort against Kentucky.

Need more help

Speaking of Cunningham, Nwora and Sutton, Louisville needs more help on the offensive end. If any of those three has a bad game, either as a facilitator, Swiss Army knife or scorer, the Cardinals are in trouble. Other guys have plugged in for certain games — Ryan McMahon vs. Michigan State and Seton Hall; Akoy Agau vs. Tennessee; Malik Williams vs. Kent State and Lipscomb — but one of them has to be more consistent as a scoring option. The best choices seem to be Steven Enoch, McMahon, Darius Perry or Williams, but ACC teams scouted and defended McMahon really well last season, and Williams needs to pick better shots on a consistent basis. V.J. King has the potential to be that guy, but it feels like we’re approaching Chuck Knoblauch yips territory with his offensive game. He can bring value as a defender and energy guy, but that may be it for a while.

You could make a strong case for Enoch or Perry because of their physical skills. Enoch is a tree at 6-foot-10 and 260 pounds, and his post moves get him into scoring positions, but he is still searching for his scoring touch around the rim. As I wrote before the season, he looks like the guy who could benefit most from Mack’s system. In addition to his scoring touch, though, Enoch also seems to have slowed down from earlier this fall, when he still looked big and strong but also relatively quick. As for Perry, the skill set is there. He is elusive and quick, armed with the kind of creativity and flair teams like to have in their guards. But he is learning how to play smart at speed, and the growing pains have been significant. His five turnovers against Kentucky showed that, with one sequence in particular sticking out. He hounded his man and came up with a loose ball, only to immediately throw it away with a careless pass attempt. There are enough athletic guards in the ACC to make him pay for that, too.

—Former USC assistant Tony Bland pleaded guilty today in federal court.

—Bovada has Bama as nearly a TD favorite over Clemson.

College Football Playoff National Championship Game @ Levi’s Stadium

Clemson +6.5

Alabama -6.5

Total 61

—The Crunch Zone has three reasons why Louisville baseball will be a team to fear in 2019.

—”My favorite Halloween costume is Lamar Jackson.” —Lamar Jackson, summer 2016

—Jackson vs. Mayfield has the potential to be the NFL’s next great rivalry.

—Related:

—Evan Daniels, and all the college coaches he interviewed, say the NCAA has to fix its idiotic new recruiting schedule.

—The Samuell Williamson hype continues to mount.

—After an extended break, Arica Carter is excited for a return to the court.

—Pretty awesome move by Brownie’s.

—We did it, guys.

—And finally, we’re back on the radio from 3-6 this afternoon talking about all the happenings from the long weekend. You can listen here.