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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Abby Holzknecht is dreaming about a friendly landing spot for Jordan Nwora this evening.

—Spread check: Louisville by 18.

—It’s NBA draft night, and there’s some pretty loud buzz floating around out there that Jordan Nwora could go as early as pick 29 to the Toronto Raptors. That’s where Andy Katz has the former U of L sharpshooter going.

—The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has updated his own mock draft to have Nwora going to the Dallas Mavericks with the first pick of the second round. Vecenie had Nwora going 42nd earlier this week.

—One week from today there will be (probably) Louisville basketball.

—The Chris Mack Radio Show will make its 2020-21 debut on Thursday.

—Remember that you don’t need to have a winning record to get invited to a bowl game this season. With that in mind, USA Today is projecting that Louisville will face Central Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 26.

—Jordan Nwora is 55th in the NBA draft consensus rankings from the hoops staff at CBS.

—Yet another Louisville defensive player has entered the transfer portal. This time it’s Trenell Troutman.

—The basic framework for Racing Louisville FC’s first season is out.

—Tom Lane of WDRB has a good read on Amy Calabrese, the new senior woman administrator at the University of Louisville athletic department.

—Brendan Marks of The Athletic has a detailed breakdown of the Chapel Hill visit that ultimately led Caleb Love to pick North Carolina over Louisville.

—Marlon Character made one of the five best defensive plays in the ACC last weekend. Pay no attention to No. 2 or No. 4.

—Louisville has offered class of 2022 tight end Brody Foley from Cincinnati.

—Fern Creek is the second team from Louisville (Southern is the other) and the 17th in the state of Kentucky to be forced to pull out of the state high school football playoffs because of Covid issues.

—Cardinal baseball is set to wrap up the fall with its annual Omaha Challenge.

—Big Russ still looking younger than me.

—The funeral for Paul Hornung will be held on Friday and will be streamed for fans to watch and pay their respects.

—Louisville running back commit Trevion Cooley is ranked No. 131 overall in the latest Class of 2021 rankings. Safety commitment Benjamin Perry is No. 159 overall.

—Athlon likes Louisville over Syracuse by three scores on Friday.

Final Analysis

This game could be challenging for Syracuse on several different levels. Not only is the Orange having problems scoring offensively, but they also rank 103th in total defense as they’re giving up 464.3 yards per game.

Louisville will be without Javian Hawkins, but they still have enough playmakers to the point that they should be fine, at least for this game. Running back Hassan Hall should return this week after missing the last three due to injury. He will team up with Jalen Mitchell and Maurice Burkley in the Cardinals backfield.

As long as Louisville takes care of the ball, it should win this game pretty easily.

Prediction: Louisville 41, Syracuse 20

—TNIAAM has its “Fake Nunes” preview of Louisville.

—One of the only good things about the 2020 Louisville football season has been the experience that many of the younger players in the program have been able to gain.

—First this week it was Scott Satterfield to South Carolina rumors. Now, Mark Stoops to Iowa? It’s definitely winter in the Bluegrass.

—Here’s the updated schedule for the 2020-21 (or I guess just 2021 now) Kentucky high school basketball season:

—Louisville is No. 12 in Sports Illustrated’s latest ACC football power rankings.

—Syracuse players are trying to ignore the outside distractions of ... you know, everything ... and just focus on Louisville.

—Mekhi Becton continues to be a rookie standout.

—As you might expect, the plans for the 2020 edition of “Light up Louisville” have been adjusted.

—ESPN previews the upcoming ACC women’s basketball season.

ACC 2020-21 writer roundtable

Are Louisville and NC State national championship contenders?

Voepel: Reigning ACC Player of the Year Dana Evans was a freshman on the Cardinals’ 2018 team that reached the Final Four. Louisville lost three starters from last season’s team, including WNBA draft picks Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook, yet still have so much talent that you could see this group making another run to the Final Four.

It would have been interesting to see how far NC State could have gone last season considering the momentum of the Wolfpack’s ACC tournament title. Junior center Elissa Cunane, a player of the year candidate, will be even better this season, and sophomores Jakia Brown-Turner and Jada Boyd are likely to have big improvements. The Wolfpack aren’t necessarily on the first tier of teams you’d expect to get to San Antonio, but they at least fall into the realm of reasonable possibility.

Creme: I wouldn’t pick either to win the national championship, but not including both in the Final Four conversation would be a mistake. And, of course, once you reach the Final Four, anything can happen, especially in a season in which very little seems predictable.

I have some small concerns about the Cardinals losing three starters and having to reconfigure a rotation with a number of players taking on new roles. Coach Jeff Walz’s track record suggests that it will come together sooner rather than later, and Evans is a great foundation. My biggest curiosity will be how big of a leap Elizabeth Balogun and Elizabeth Dixon make. Much was made last year of their transfer from Georgia Tech, but their impact, especially that of the 6-foot-5 Dixon, wasn’t massive. If one season in the program was enough to get them comfortable, they could become a force even greater than that of the departed Jones and Shook.

The Wolfpack also have a high-caliber centerpiece in Cunane, and Wes Moore has created an offensively balanced system that has made NC State one of the country’s most consistent teams over the past few seasons. If Brown-Turner and Boyd make the improvement that Mechelle predicts, and senior Kai Crutchfield can be the everyday point guard to replace Aislinn Konig, then reaching San Antonio is within reach.

Hays: Having already included Arizona and UCLA among the viable contenders out of the Pac-12, I might be accused of having an overly generous tent. But a bit like the 2010-11 season, when Texas A&M ended up winning its lone title, it really feels like that sort of landscape.

Of the two, and actually not entirely unlike that A&M team, I think Louisville is best positioned to be a championship team by spring. Evans might not be a player you build a championship around — that’s a select group of the likes of Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, etc. But the reigning ACC player of the year is capable of being the best player on a championship team — a significant distinction in this season that doesn’t feature a Parker, Stewart or Taurasi.

The question then becomes does Louisville have that case to put around her? We don’t know right now. But Walz hasn’t shied away from calling this group his deepest team, which gives him a lot of options to find the rotation that works. If Balogun and Dixon continue to develop in their second seasons after transferring, if freshmen Hailey Van Lith and Olivia Cochran are everything the recruiting touts suggest, if junior college transfer Ahlana Smith gets up to speed quickly — if most or all of those things happen, this is a championship team.

It’s a lot of “ifs,” but that isn’t disqualifying in a season of uncertainty.

—Covers.com joins the chorus of folks thinking that the Louisville-Syracuse line might be a tad high.

—This month marks the 40-year anniversary of Stripes being shot in Louisville.

—Sam and Jae’Lyn both being ready to go for next week’s opener is certainly good news.

—A new fundraising campaign has launched to improve Muhammad Ali’s childhood Louisville home and construct a new welcome center.

—And finally, the latest episode of the CC Podcast is here for your ears and your hearts.