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Monday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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I regret to inform the haters and losers that Cardinal Christmas tree season has returned.

—Spread check: Louisville by 1.5.

—Kickoff for Saturday’s game between Louisville and Boston College has been set for 4 p.m. The ACC Network will have the call.

—The CJ’s Cameron Teague Robinson has three major takeaways from Louisville’s stomping of Syracuse.

—Peyton Siva is the guest on the latest episode of Jeff Greer’s podcast.

—The CJ’s Shannon Russell serves up a general overview of the 2020-21 U of L men’s basketball season.

Reason to worry

COVID-19. Injuries. Inexperience at some positions. Unknowns that could work in Louisville’s favor could also work against it. We don’t know what U of L will look like with its full complement until February when Williams potentially returns, and that assumes there will be no further injuries or the need for quarantine. Louisville lost six major playmakers and most of its scoring and rebounding from last season, requiring an overhaul of contributions from the current roster. In the meantime, players anchoring the frontcourt in Williams’ place (Withers, Aidan Igiehon and freshman Gabe Wiznitzer) have a lot of growing to do. The Cardinals will learn a ton about themselves during the multi-team event, but scoring could be rocky if the team falters in defense and rebounding.

Reason to be optimistic

Aside from the fifth-place perch in the ACC preseason poll, Louisville hasn’t gotten a ton of preseason love. More than one player has mentioned the chip on the team’s collective shoulder, so don’t be surprised if they whip up lessons in Proving People Wrong. This group has good chemistry and clear understanding for the elite-level defense and rebounding required to help manufacture points and win games. Jones (20 points, 5.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals as a redshirt junior at Radford) is ready for his debut, while sophomores Johnson, Samuell Williamson, Quinn Slazinski, Josh Nickelberry and Igiehon have opportunities to be the backbone of the future. If this team sustains success without Minlend and Williams, imagine its potential when they return.

—In a year where they probably weren’t going to make the tournament anyway (and where there’s a slight possibility there won’t even be a tournament), Auburn has announced a self-imposed postseason ban for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers. I’m very interested to see if the NCAA gives the program any brownie points for this, or if they see right through it and stick with whatever punishment they already had in the holster.

—Friday night showed that the future could be bright for Louisville football if the young guys who are seeing increased reps right now continue to develop.

—Jon Rothstein has 10 bold predictions for the 2020-21 college hoops season.

—Same.

—Baylor basketball head coach Scott Drew has tested positive for Covid-19, but the Bears are still planning on starting their season on Wednesday.

—The Florida Gators have announced that they won’t be starting their season on Wednesday. Covid issues have canceled the team’s first two games of the season, including a showdown with No. 4 Virginia.

—Dana O’Neil writes (Athletic link) that while the start of the college hoops season has been messy, and the months ahead are likely going to be messy too, the only thing that matters is getting to March.

It has to happen for all of the good feels — a taste of normalcy, a reward for the players, a salve for the fans — but mostly it has to happen for one very simple reason. As Deep Throat said in “All the President’s Men”: Follow the money.

That’s not meant to be an insult or accusation. Just a simple truth, a reality as college basketball tries to get from the Nov. 25 start date to the finish line.

The financial hit of a second canceled tourney would be cataclysmic. Between its TV deal with CBS and ticket revenue, the NCAA estimates it lost around $700 million when the 2020 tournament was canceled as a result of the pandemic. Maybe people have a hard time welling up with sympathy for the national body, but understand the trickle-down in college basketball is real, and it’s painful. Last year the NCAA expected to distribute $600 million to its 32 conferences; instead it shared $225 million. That means hundreds of schools that have neither lucrative TV deals nor the cushion of big-time football to help soften the blow received far less money in the middle of a global pandemic that already is wreaking havoc on their budgets.

Now imagine multiplying that by two. A canceled 2021 tourney would not just devastate the NCAA, it also would seriously maim individual schools and at some level, all of college basketball.

The show really has to go on.

—The College Football Playoff selection committee will hold its first in-person meeting of the season in Texas today.

—Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician reacts to Syracuse’s blowout loss to Louisville.

—Louisville Report looks at the points of emphasis for Wednesday’s Louisville-Evansville matchup.

—Your ACC week 11 touchdown remix:

—The Cardinal Sports Zone crew talks about the Syracuse win on the latest episode of their pod.

”The Top Whatever” is always a fun weekly college football read, even if there’s no mention of Louisville.

—Ole Miss is canceling the first four games of its men’s basketball season because of Covid issues (head coach Kermit Davis tested positive last week). That includes a rivalry game against Memphis State.

—Kelsi Dahlia just continues to smash records.

—Happy launch day to our friends over at State of Louisville. I was the guest for the first episode of their new U of L basketball podcast, which you can listen to here.

—If you missed it on Friday, Montrezl Harrell is now a Los Angeles Laker.

—Madison Central baseball standout Brandon Anderson has signed with Louisville.

—Big Red Louie says Donovan Mitchell deserves every penny of his new contract.

—I know Northwestern annoys some people, but this is pretty awesome.

I’m sure he’s a fine person, but has Joey Galloway ever been right about anything?

—The folks in Madison are already excited about next month’s Louisville-Wisconsin matchup.

—Louisville’s beatdown of Syracuse allowed the Cards to replace themselves with the Orange in this week’s Powerless Rankings.

—Victory highlight videos are back.

—An increased role “means everything” for Cardinal running back Maurice Burkley.

—Saturday Blitz has three takeaways from Louisville’s shutout of Syracuse.

—Duke’s season-opener against Gardner-Webb has been canceled because of Covid issues with the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

—There’s no longer any question about it: Carlik Jones is your Louisville men’s basketball preseason MVP.

—The Syracuse Post Standard covers Friday night’s Cardinal victory.

—Busting Brackets ranks all 357 teams in college basketball.

—ACC basketball championship odds from SportsBetting.com:

—BC Bulletin kicks off its week of Louisville game coverage.

—Louisville is No. 11 in Syracuse.com’s latest ACC football power rankings.

—And finally, good news from the gridiron, where Marshon Ford has returned to practice after missing last week’s game against Syracuse.