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Thursday evening Cardinal news and notes

Javian Hawkins is the best.

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—The second-ranked Louisville women’s basketball team is on the road tonight to take on Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Here’s a preview.

—U of L has once again made $10 tickets available for Friday night’s game against Pitt.

—“We had heard they wanted to play a game. Well they played, and they got played.”

—Pope Francis is now in possession of an autographed Lamar Jackson Ravens jersey.

—Eric Crawford writes that it felt like old times inside the KFC Yum Center on Tuesday night.

—Growing up a Louisville fan is wonderfully different.

—Jordan Nwora is one of 46 players on the Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List.

—”The DePaul Blue Demons are 9-0 after last night’s win over the reigning national runners-up” is a sentence that is both factual and proof that we are all living in a simulation. Props to the Blue Demons on their dream resurgence. The Card Chronicle-coached program would have gotten here five years ago.

—Pat Forde writes about Louisville humbling Michigan and the special environment Tuesday night inside the Yum Center.

But mostly the Cardinals have Nwora, who is off to a National Player of the Year start on the season. He is a skilled shooter and an increasingly tough player, driving into the teeth of the Michigan defense, absorbing contact, finishing plays, grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Nwora reached his season scoring average, putting 22 on the board, but in this rock fight that accounted for 38% of Louisville’s points.

“He’s a special talent,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said.

Is this a special Louisville team? That’s to be determined, and Mack knows it (“We can’t feel like we’ve been crowned,” he said. “Long season”). But in a year that has begun with just about every top team looking fallible, why not the Cardinals?

This is their sweet spot. Their moment of hope and joy sandwiched between painful sanctions and potential sanctions. And the roars in the Yum Center Tuesday night were proof that Louisville’s fans are ready to seize what could be a fleeting opportunity.

—There are no Louisville players on the Ann Meyers Drysdale Watch List, which is further proof of Jeff Walz’s brilliance.

—This video is the good stuff.

—Sports Illutsrated looks at the takeaways from a blowout-heavy ACC-Big 10 Challenge.

—You wear your Memphis State jerseys and bring Darius Washington out at halftime and we’re in.

—U of L signee JJ Traynor kicked off his senior season with a 13-point, 13-rebound performance in Bardstown High’s 57-51 win over Marion County on Tuesday. He’ll be playing in the Muhlenberg Tip-Off Classic this weekend.

—Louisville football finished the regular season and burned just one redshirt from its freshman class, quarterback Evan Conley.

—Chris Mack was as pumped as anyone to hear the Scott Satterfield ACC COY news.

—The U of L volleyball team opens NCAA tournament play tonight against Samford.

—The Big Game Pod guys recap Louisville’s win over Michigan and confirm what the rest of us thought: Ryan McMahon was pretty damn fantastic on defense against the Wolverines.

—Louisville tops Matt Norlander’s hoops power rankings for CBS.

1. Louisville

It can be nobody but Louisville in the spot. The 8-0 Cardinals are No. 1 atop not just both the major polls, but almost every predictive metric as well. They’re holding on to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in six seasons. They’re the only team at KenPom ranking in the top-10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. With the 58-43 smothering of a Michigan team Tuesday night that came in averaging 80-plus, Louisville became the second team ever in a top-five matchup to hold the other top-five team under 45 points. Chris Mack, you’re the front-runner for now for national coach of the year.

—Before and during tomorrow night’s game against Pitt, U of L will be collecting new or gently used winter wear for its winter clothing drive to help the homeless.

—Some deserved Pro bowl buzz for Jaire Alexander.

—Danielle Lerner of The Athletic writes about the suffocating Louisville defense from Tuesday night.

—The Detroit News recaps Louisville’s win over Michigan and the reaction to David DeJulius’ “we want all the smoke” comment.

—Tremendous jacket.

—Via his Twitter, Louisville has offered class of 2021 shooting guard Luke Goode out of Fort Wayne, IN.

—Dana O’Neill of The Athletic is now sold on Louisville.

So that’s one surprise of the season. Give me one of your biggest surprises.

Dana: I’m going to go back to the beginning and our poll leader, Louisville. I wasn’t all-in on all of the preseason hype with the Cardinals. I thought a jump from losing to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to solid Final Four pick seemed like a rather large leap. Having watched Louisville on Tuesday night, I’m more of a believer.

The Cards’ defense was better than I anticipated, and while I still question who the reliable secondary scorer will be, Jordan Nwora is a really nice first option to have. He’s sensational. I’m looking forward to seeing the Cards in person next week against the dentist office visit that is Texas Tech. And of course that little game later this month against Kentucky will be even more telling, but I now can see why people were so hot on Louisville to start.

—Land-Grant Holy Land previews tonight’s Louisville-OSU game.

—The Cards will be rocking a new look Friday night against Pitt.

—Busting Brackets serves up the five biggest takeaways from the first month of ACC basketball.

—I know the “culture change” narrative has been beaten to death, revived Jon Snow style and beaten to death again, but it’s hard not to smile at stuff like this.

—Most seem to think that he’s LSU bound, but getting Marcus Dumervil on campus for an official visit is still a big deal for U of L.

—U of L commit Austin Collins has been named First Team All-State in Ohio.

—As always, these videos are the best.

—You can see Jeff Capel’s pre-Louisville press conference here.

—Eric Crawford writes about Louisville’s desire to attack more on offense Friday night against Pitt.

—Folks, we’ve got Raise the Banner shirts and hoodies now available.

—The Michigan Insider has four takeaways from the Louisville win over the Wolverines.

—Yahoo previews Louisville vs. Pitt.

—And finally, beat Ohio State.