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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Never fly without a mask.

—Spread check: Virginia by 3.5.

—Dana Evans has been named a preseason All-American by the Associated Press.

—The U of L men’s basketball team received the most votes of any team that did not make the preseason coaches top 25. Unlike the AP, the coaches went with Baylor over Gonzaga as their preseason No. 1 team.

—Fresh D’Andre Davis highlights:

We might be seeing more of that guy this month than we were expecting.

—Regaining focus has been the theme this week for Louisville football.

—Bryan Brown and Russ Yeast talked with the media after practice on Wednesday. Here’s everything they had to say.

—It’s the 50-year anniversary of the perhaps the greatest moment in American history.

—The U of L softball program signed a six-player class on Wednesday.

—The volleyball program inked six new Cardinals.

—The college hoops writers over at CBS make their Final Four picks.

—Even the good news these days seems to be peppered with some slightly not so good news.

Very glad that Sam is back.

—Quentin Snider continues to put up some impressive numbers in Cyprus.

—Hoops Insight continues its deep dive on the 2015-16 Louisville men’s basketball team. The topic today is how well the team would have fared in the NCAA tournament had the powers that be not self-imposed a postseason ban.

NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen: #4 seed Louisville vs #1 seed Oregon

The Ducks got a #1 seed by winning the Pac-12 Tournament despite regular season losses to 3 non-NCAA Tournament teams (UNLV, Boise State, Stanford). KenPom rated them as the weakest #1 seed, and their adjusted margin of +22.7/100 poss is a good bit below Louisville’s projected rating. In real life Oregon beat Duke in this game, but Louisville slips past the Ducks by 3 points (70 poss) and into the Elite Eight!

NCAA Tournament Elite Eight: #4 seed Louisville vs #2 seed Oklahoma

The Sooners and senior star Buddy Hield were actually higher rated by KenPom than #1 seed Oregon, and in real life the Sooners beat the Ducks to make the Final Four. In our reimagining, Louisville is rated higher than the Sooners (+23.8/100 poss) and would prevail by 3 points (67 poss). The Cardinals are in the imaginary Final Four!

NCAA Tournament Final Four: #4 seed Louisville vs #1 seed Villanova

If the Cardinals had made the 2016 Final Four, they would have made it 3 ACC teams (North Carolina, Syracuse). The lone non-ACC representative, Villanova, was rated as the #1 team for the season by KenPom with an adjusted margin of +32.0/100 poss. In our imaginary tournament, that is enough to give the Wildcats a slim 3 point win over the Cardinals (63 poss).

At the time of the postseason ban, Louisville was playing like one of the best teams in the country. Even adjusting to exclude games where they beat up on weak teams, the Cards had a strong enough statistical profile to match up with almost anyone. As a likely 4-seed, Louisville would have been a strong candidate to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. The fanbase never got to see that come true, but they should know that in an alternate universe a Final Four appearance was “in the Cards”!

—The U of L lacrosse program signed a 10-player class of 2021.

—This is good, but I guess the bigger question is whether or not Seton Hall is moving forward with its plans to play Louisville. Pirates are also scheduled to play Winthrop at the KFC Yum Center on Nov. 25.

—Louisville sits at No. 11 in Streaking the Lawn’s latest ACC power rankings.

—Sports Illustrated’s ACC power rankings have the Cards a spot lower at No. 12.

—247 Sports analysts react to the U of L men’s basketball class of 2021.

—Pat Forde has Louisville all the way down at No. 8 in his ACC basketball preview for Sports Illustrated.

8. Louisville

The Cardinals would be a couple of spots higher if they hadn’t been waylaid by injuries this month. Post man Malik Williams, the team captain and most experienced returning player, will miss 12 weeks (and possibly all season) after breaking a bone in his foot for the second time in 14 months. San Francisco grad transfer Charles Minlend is out six weeks with a knee injury. That leaves much of the load to Radford transfer Carlik Jones (a 20-point scorer) and sophomores David Johnson and Samuell Williamson. Johnson is an NBA-level talent who can play a physical point at 6’ 5” and 210 pounds. Williamson was a high-level recruit with great offensive ability. Both need to improve their defense, especially since Williams will not be backing them up at the rim.

—Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels have paused all team activities and canceled their first four games of the season because of a positive Covid test.

—The latest episode of the Teel and Barber podcast talks ACC hoops.

—The Score says Virginia is a good matchup for Louisville this weekend.

—Graham Hays of ESPN says one Louisville player not all that well known nationally will be a breakout star in 2020-21.

Emerging player: Elizabeth Dixon, Louisville Cardinals

Dixon did fine in her first season with the Cardinals, but she wasn’t as influential as fellow Georgia Tech transfer Elizabeth Balogun. That should change. Louisville had a particularly deep post rotation a season ago. Now Bionca Dunham and WNBA draftee Kylee Shook are gone. Dixon still can’t assume minutes, but with a full season to adjust to coach Jeff Walz, the 6-foot-5 forward should be ready. Syracuse’s Emily Engstler was the only ACC player who averaged at least eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game a season ago. That’s not out of reach for Dixon.

—Big Red Louie looks at what to know about Virginia.

—And finally, College Football News previews Louisville-Virginia, and predicts a narrow Cavalier victory.