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Tuesday morning Cardinal news and notes

The CCBM was not going to miss Donovan Mitchell’s first All-Star Game appearance.

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NET Rankings Update: No. 9.

—The Cards are down from a two to a three seed in both of the mock brackets from Sports Illustrated.

—The top-ranked U of L baseball team opened its 2020 season by winning its opener but dropping the next two to No. 25 Ole Miss. The Cards will play their first game at Jim Patterson Stadium when Wright State visits Wednesday at 3 p.m.

—Danielle Lerner dives headfirst (Athletic link) into Louisville’s woes.

The first half against Clemson was its worst of the season by nearly any measure. Louisville trailed 30-14 at the break after shooting just 5-of-32 from the field, 3-of-16 from 3-point range, and giving up 11 points off of turnovers. The Cardinals bricked point-blank shots four feet from the basket, missed put-backs and suffered more than a few unfriendly rolls off the rim.

Mack tried to shake things up by sending out a lineup of Kimble, Perry, Nwora, Sutton and Williams to start the second half, only to see his team outscored 7-4 before the first timeout. Nothing the Cardinals did in the second half, not even shooting 51 percent while outscoring the Tigers, 48-46, could undo the damage done in the first. Louisville trailed by as many as 21 points and never cut the deficit below 10.

The 15-point loss to Clemson, which entered Saturday with a 12-12 record, marked Louisville’s largest margin of defeat to a team without a winning record since a loss to TCU on Feb. 17, 2004.

—The latest installment of BucketHatism recaps the awful week that was for the U of L men’s basketball team.

—Louisville is No. 18 in Gary Parrish’s daily rankings for CBS.

—Highlights from Sunday’s thumping of Notre Dame:

—Jordan Nwora is the 32nd overall pick in Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft (Insider) for ESPN.

—The U of L women’s golf team had play suspended with one hole left in the second round of the Moon Golf Invitational on Monday. The Cardinals had moved up from 10th to t-1st when play was suspended.

—The Athletic’s ACC power rankings have Louisville down from No. 1 to No. 3.

3. Louisville (21-5, 12-3)

Q1: 3-3 Q2: 4-2 Q3: 9-0 Q4: 5-0

Best Wins*: 79-73 at Duke (6/Q1), 58-43 over Michigan (31), 80-73 over UVa (55), 67-64 at Notre Dame (59/Q1), 77-57 at N.C. State (61/Q1)

Through the first three months of the season, the Cardinals were the only ACC team without a single head-scratching loss. (Only Texas Tech, Kentucky and FSU had beaten them.) Then, in the aftermath of a 10-game winning streak that included a victory at Duke, the Cards lost back-to-back road games to Georgia Tech and Clemson. Beyond that, some of the details were just plain weird. Junior forward Jordan Nwora, a 20-points-per-game ACC Player of the Year candidate all season, scored only two points against the Yellow Jackets and five against the Tigers. Clemson, one of the least efficient teams in the league offensively, shot better than 50 percent from the field and won 77-62. At its best, Louisville still offers the best combination of talent (plenty), depth (nine true regulars) and experience (four seniors and three juniors in the rotation) in the ACC, but now Chris Mack also has a midseason crisis on his hands. The Cardinals’ star is struggling, their defense hasn’t been nearly as dominant, and the pieces aren’t fitting together very well. There’s still time to right the ship, but those definitely were alarm bells.

Remaining: Syracuse (Wed.), UNC (Sat.), at FSU (Feb. 24), Virginia Tech (March 1), at UVa (March 7)

—ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler is reporting that Teddy Bridgewater is expected to have a “strong market” in free agency and could land a multi-year deal that would pay him around $30 million per year.

—Charlie Strong appears to be moving closer towards landing a spot on the Alabama staff.

—The ACC is now following in the Big Ten’s footsteps and publicly supporting a one-time transfer for players in all sports where said transfer would be eligible to play immediately at their new school.

—The CJ’s Cameron Teague looks at why enrolling early is already paying off for Louisville football’s 15 early enrollees.

—Eric Crawford has eight thoughts on the current state of the Louisville men’s basketball team.

7). PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. I wrote this last season, but will reprise it here. This could be a group that could benefit from a sport psychologist. I don’t say that as a negative. Kentucky, among other teams, uses a sport psychologist openly and often.

Here’s why I say this. It’s a team that seems to have trouble with success. And why wouldn’t it? These guys, people often forget, have been through a lot. They committed to a program with a Hall of Fame coach and a championship history, but they haven’t experienced that history. They’ve experienced turmoil and change.

When they gave up a 20-point lead in the final 10 minutes against Duke, it struck me that the block may have been as much mental as physical, talented as Duke was. And having just beaten Virginia, in what looked like control of their ACC fate, the team once again flinched.

The terrible free-throw shooting performance at Kentucky, worse than any we’ve seen from this team, really, in two seasons. Again, flinching in the face of success.

This is not a team of superstars. It has to play together and play with energy to win. It’s not going to win on talent alone. But when a team that needs to play together begins to have even a little crack in confidence or cohesion, that little crack can create a bit problem.

Some of you are reading this and saying to yourselves, “BS. It’s psycho-babble. Just toughen up.” That’s one way to fix it. But that way has not worked to this point.

I just have a gut feeling that this group needs to believe it deserves the success it has had, and more, if it will keep working to earn it.

Sometimes it’s tough to break through that barrier if you don’t have guys on the team who have experienced it. But that’s what Louisville will have to do.

—The U of L lacrosse team rolled past Marquette on Monday.

—North Carolina’s unbelievable run of soul-crushing last second losses continued Monday night with a 77-76 loss to Notre Dame in a game the Heels led by 15 with just 8:30 to play.

Imagine how much harder that would be for UNC fans to stomach if the team was any good.

—Penny Hardaway has gone from guaranteeing Memphis State was going to win the national title to looking like he’s headed to the NIT. Pete Thamel writes about how it’s all gone wrong for the Tigers this season.

—Love this.

—The Louisville men’s and women’s swim and dive teams are geared up for this week’s ACC Championships.

—Dez Fitzpatrick talks about his senior season at U of L and the opportunity to play with his younger brother in 2020.

—After a lengthy battle with cancer, lifelong Louisville fan Greg Cain succumbed to the disease in March of last year. Now, in Greg’s honor, one of his closest friends is training to run two ultra marathons to raise money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

You can find out more about Greg’s story and donate to that cause here.

—Chris Mack remained upbeat on Monday’s ACC coaches teleconference.

“There are no pouters on the team,” Mack said. “And that’s always a good sign. They’re disappointed. No one feels good about losing two in a row, but I also think we have the character in our locker room to figure it out and go to work.

”I’m looking forward to today’s practice and heading in the right direction.”

Louisville (21-5, 12-3) have lost two in a row for the second time this season. The Cardinals are still just one game behind Duke in the loss column in the ACC Conference race and one game ahead of Florida State in the win column.

The Cardinals will host Syracuse on Wednesday night at the KFC Yum Center and North Carolina on Saturday.

”When you invest every single day in your players and the players invest in one another, you never feel like its a good thing to lose,” Mack said when asked if losing now was a good thing. “Maybe in two months, I will feel differently. We certainly have the rest of the story to write.

”But I do think our team has been in our situation before and the last time we lost two in a row, we rattled off 10 straight wins.”

—Peyton Siva scored 12 points on Monday as his ALBA Berlin squad destroyed Oldenburg, allowing Siva to win his first German Cup. Bellarmine/New Albany product Braydon Hobbs scored a team-high 17 points for the losing side.

—Fire Geno imo.

—South Oldham’s JT Benson has signed on to play his college baseball at Louisville.

—The latest Forde Minutes starts off by looking at where John Beilein may land if he does return to the college game, and then gets into the ACC title race.

Florida State (11) and Louisville (12) will need some help now to catch Duke in the ACC. Both are a game behind in the loss column, and Louisville is reeling a bit after consecutive ugly losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson. The Seminoles haven’t won a conference title of any kind since the Metro in 1989, and the Cardinals last won their league when it was the American Athletic Conference in 2014. Louisville plays at Florida State on Feb. 24 in what could be an elimination game for the loser.

Minutes projection: Duke. And believe it or not, it’s been a while since the Blue Devils have won the ACC regular season title—2010 to be exact. Since then North Carolina has won it five times, Virginia four and Miami once (the Tar Heels and Cavaliers shared it last year). This time around, the Blue Devils close with six games in which Ken Pomeroy gives them 70-95% chances of winning.

—Russ Smith has signed a deal to continue his professional career in Puerto Rico.

—I help recap the weekend that was in college hoops in the latest episode if The Fundamentally Sound podcast.

—This from yesterday was both so sad and a beautiful display of love at the same time.

The funeral arrangements for Carrie McCaw, Lesley Prather, Kacey McCaw and Rhyan Prather can be found here.

—Louisville football is 35th in the first FPI for the 2020 season.

—Washington, Georgia and Memphis are the latest teams to prove that chasing one-and-dones should probably be left to the blue bloods.

—I feel like Roy hated this picture so much but felt like he couldn’t say no.

—Louisville’s Ben Bianco admits that it “felt really weird” going up against his dad’s Ole Miss squad last weekend in Oxford.

—And finally, the Cards slide down from No. 5 to No. 13 in ESPN’s latest hoops power rankings.