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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Beat Syracuse.

—Spread check: Louisville by 19.5.

—Three of the five football writers over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician like Syracuse to pull off the upset of Louisville tonight.

—CBS has wrapped up its countdown of the 68 greatest college basketball programs of all-time, and Louisville lands at No. 6.

6. Louisville

Record since 1938-39: 1,578-724 | Regular-season titles: 23

NCAA Tournaments: 43 | Final Fours: 10

Weeks ranked: 652 | Top-60 NBA picks: 55

POINTS: 1,082.2

Louisville ahead of Indiana — and the race wasn’t too, too close. While the Hoosiers have bobbed and weaved in the near-20 years since Knight left IU, Louisville has made multiple Final Fours, won the 2013 national championship (which was vacated, but again: we are counting all those wins here) and managed to maneuver from the Big East into the ACC and not lose its footing nationally. Rick Pitino’s exit was extremely messy and filled with controversy. But this is a program that’s yet to have a bad coach dating back to the early 1940s. Peck Hickman went 443-183 from 1944-67, then John Dromo was there and out in four seasons but still won 75% of his games (68-23).

Denny Crum left his job as an assistant coach UCLA in 1971 to guide the Cardinals and pushed U of L into the top tier of college basketball. Crum coached for three decades (675-295), won two national titles and had Louisville as competitive as just about any program in the 1980s. He was succeeded by Pitino, who flamed out with the Celtics only to return to college basketball and prove he had not lost a step. Charlie Tyra, Wes Unseld, Darrell Griffith, Pervis Ellison, Clifford Rozier and Russ Smith were consensus All-Americans. The best team in school history figures to be that ‘80 title-winning squad with the Doctors of Dunk, led by Griffith. Did you know: local legend has it that the “high five” was popularized first by Cardinal hoops, sometime around the late 1970s. From the Missouri Valley to the Metro to Conference USA to the Big East, a pit stop in the American, and now in the ACC. I mentioned Cincinnati’s league-by-league hopscotch above, and Louisville’s really the only school to best that. The program seems to be in great hands now with Chris Mack, who came by way of Xavier and hasn’t seen a dip so far.

DePaul was No. 1.

—There haven’t been many surprise bright spots for the Louisville football team this season, but kicker James Turner has been an exception.

—Andy Katz previews the ACC in podcast form, and has Louisville as a bubble team.

—The squad is all here.

—The Winchester Sun covers Jax Davis’ signing with Louisville baseball.

—Jody Demling and Michael McCammon both like Louisville over Syracuse by two scores tonight.

—Chris Mack’s 2021 recruiting class currently sits among the nation’s top 10.

—Well, this is the final straw. I am now officially ready to declare 2020 a bad year.

—Louisville doesn’t make the preseason top 25 from Heat Check CBB.

—Bellarmine has delayed the start of its first D-I basketball season because of Covid issues. The Knights have currently paused all team activities.

—The Rick Pitino era at Iona has also been delayed because of Covid issues.

—Former St. X star Desmond Ridder is having a dream season for the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats.

Desmond Ridder is a planner and a preparer, which is a funny thing when you consider how much of the Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback’s life has been completely unscripted.

That started at the beginning, quite literally. His mother, Sarah, was 15 years old when she gave birth to Desmond in Louisville. His choice of high schools veered twice late in the process, due to unforeseen circumstances. He got his Cincinnati scholarship offer in a Porta-Potty at Churchill Downs, after a hastily arranged throwing session earlier that day. He was sure his longtime girlfriend was giving birth to a son, only to learn at the gender-reveal party earlier this month that he will be a girl dad come April.

Even though Ridder might have dreamed of being where he is today, neither he nor his family ever could have envisioned the path. “It’s been surreal,” Sarah Ridder says. “There’s still times we see the highlights on ESPN and say, ‘Holy crap, that’s our kid.’ ”

That’s her kid, passing and running and leading the Bearcats to a 7–0 record and No. 7 national ranking, threatening to become the first Group of Five conference program to crash the College Football Playoff. That’s her kid, ranking second in the American Athletic Conference and 18th nationally in yards per play, at 8.27. That’s her kid, moving up in NFL draft analyst projections. That’s her kid, causing agents to inquire with his mom and stepdad about whether Desmond is going pro or returning to school in 2021.

The NFL would complete the career arc Ridder foresaw for himself as a kid, though few others envisioned it for him. He grew up with a large “X” decal on the wall of his bedroom, symbolizing his hopes of playing at St. Xavier High School. He grew up with a goal of being a major-college quarterback. He grew up dreaming of playing on Sundays.

Check. Check. And … we’ll see.

—Miami head coach Manny Diaz has tested positive for Covid.

—Eric Crawford shares his thoughts on the death of Paul Hornung.

—Luke Murray is one of the 25 college hoops assistants poised to make the leap (Athletic link) to head coach in the very near future.

Luke Murray, Louisville assistant coach. The basketball acumen is well-respected among his peers, but let’s consider this: He’s the tip of the spear in Louisville’s recruiting efforts during a time when the program is dealing with an NCAA investigation. And between the Classes of 2019 and 2020, the Cardinals have signed seven four- and five-star prospects. If Murray can help Carlik Jones translate his production from the Big South to the ACC as a grad transfer, it’ll be yet another check-plus in the player development column. Basically, Murray will be a head coach soon, or everyone is wrong about him.

—Both Syracuse and Louisville know that they’re running out of opportunities to turn their seasons around.

—Keith and I previewed tonight’s game for the latest episode of the CC Podcast.

—Jordan has never been one to show a ton of outward emotion.

—The Syracuse student newspaper previews tonight’s game and picks the Cards to win, 31-14.

—The CJ’s Cameron Teague has three keys to success for Louisville tonight.

—Friday Irrelevance:

—The Duke Chronicle (clearly our biggest ACC rival) previews the 2020-21 Louisville men’s basketball team.

—Cardinal Authority has a Q&A with the latest hoops signee, big man Roosevelt Wheeler.

—Cards are back.

—Couldn’t be more back.

—Big Red Louie highlights three Syracuse players to watch tonight.

—Rick Bozich makes his against the spread picks for this weekend’s games featuring the area’s teams.

—And finally, beat Syracuse. Please.