—Spread check: Florida State by 2.5.
—NET Rankings Update: No. 7.
—It’s going to be a packed house tonight in Tally.
—Louisville is No. 9 in Andy Katz’s Power 36 rankings.
—U of L wide receiver Corey Reed, who had previously entered the NCAA transfer portal, is back on the Louisville roster.
—Michael McCammon lays out the top five storylines for Louisville football as it heads into spring practice.
Blanton Creque is gone and the open spot seems destined to fall on freshman Brock Travelstead. A highly-rated kicker, Travelstead was an All-American selection following his senior season. The chance to complete for the first team role is a key factor in his decision to become a Cardinal.
The loss of Creque was notable last fall, with the Cardinals kicking game converting just one of three field goal attempts after his season-ending injury. Reserve Ryan Chalifoux’s season highlight was throwing a touchdown in a win against NC State and a 31-yard field goal in the Music City Bowl.
During his career, Travelstead finished 28-for-35 on field goals, 128 of 130 on extra points, averaged 68 yards a kickoff, had 130 touchbacks and averaged 42 yards a punt.
Travelstead was a two-time All-State honoree and he was named three-time All-County Special Teams Player of the Year. He was also named a MaxPreps All-American and was on the Kohl’s Kicking first-team All-American after his senior season.
Travelstead is among the 15 early enrollees that will participate in spring practice.
—Danielle Lerner writes for The Athletic that after back-to-back blowouts, Louisville seems ready for Monday night’s showdown at Florida State.
—Congrats to former Card Greg Scruggs, who has been promoted to defensive line coach by Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell.
—Really enjoyed Malik Williams’ reaction to Roy Williams’ (no relation) claim that Louisville can win it all.
Roy Williams believes Louisville can win it all. Malik Williams' response? "Why not go do it?" pic.twitter.com/OofSxr9AS5— Tyler Greever (@Tyler__Greever) February 23, 2020
—DeVante Parker’s new Cardinal-inspired chain is ridiculous in the best possible way.
—The latest Forde Minutes from Pat Forde sees the ACC champion as a candidate to sneak up and grab a 1-seed on Selection Sunday.
Then there is the ACC champion. Momentum has been a bit elusive for the top three teams. Just when Florida State (6) looms large, the Seminoles falter at Virginia and Duke. Just when Louisville (7) asserts itself, the Cardinals lose back-to-back to Georgia Tech and Clemson. Just when Duke (8) surges to the front, the Blue Devils get blown out by North Carolina State. The Big Monday showdown between Louisville and Florida State looks like an ACC title elimination game, and likely an NCAA No. 1 seed elimination game. The Cardinals arrive in Tallahassee as the No. 7 team in the NCAA NET rankings, while the Seminoles are No. 12. Duke is No. 6.
(Worth noting that the path to the ACC title still runs through Charlottesville, even if Virginia is unlikely to win its third straight conference crown. Both Duke and Louisville have to play the Cavaliers on their home court.)
—The latest episode of the Cardinal Sports Zone podcast features “You Don’t Want These Cards” rapper B-Simm.
—Highlights from the U of L women’s team’s Sunday rout of Pitt.
—The Tomahawk Nation podcast previews tonight’s game against Louisville and discusses the remarkable evolution of FSU basketball over the last decade.
—Malik Williams is back to being “really good” for U of L.
—Louisville pitchers struck out a billion (approximately) hitters and the Cards swept Valparaiso over the weekend.
—Between championship belt guy and the hype kids, I am excited about the new generation of basketball home game characters.
—The Denver Post says that Mekhi Becton is one of 25 draft prospects that NFL fans should go ahead and familiarize themselves with.
—Big Red Louie has three bold predictions for the FSU game.
—The U of L softball team had a rough time at the Bama Bash and now sits at 5-9 on the season.
—Jordan Nwora is unbothered by the haters.
Jordan Nwora was asked about criticism. "A lot of people like to say a lot of things. Ya know, if I have a good game, I play bad..." Says it goes for whole team. "If that's the case, there's a lot of other teams you can cheer for." Recognizes good fans, says Cards staying focused pic.twitter.com/a2HaMDwvsX— Tyler Greever (@Tyler__Greever) February 23, 2020
—Donovan Mitchell is the fuel behind the Utah Jazz’s second-longest home sellout streak in franchise history.
—Metallica has backed out of performing at Louisville’s Louder Than Life rock festival.
—This will be just the fourth time in the history of Florida State basketball that they will have hosted a top 10 matchup (Louisville is No. 10 in the coaches poll, No. 11 in the AP).
Not that this game needed much more juice anyway. The Seminoles and Cardinals are both vying for the regular-season ACC championship and are also still in very good position to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Maybe even higher if they stay hot down the stretch.
Calling this a “big” game is an understatement. And saying it’s one of the biggest in the history of the Tucker Center would not be an overstatement.
Florida State vs. Louisville Round 2, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight on ESPN, will be a monumental Monday night showdown.
”These are games that you want to play in,” Louisville head coach Chris Mack said. “That you want them to be meaningful. Florida State wanted it to be meaningful. And we did. And we’ve gotten ourselves to this point. And they’re going to be a heck of a challenge for our team.”
—The North State Journal recaps North Carolina’s lopsided loss at Louisville.
—Louisville is No. 11 in ESPN’s latest college hoops power rankings. Florida State is No. 9.
—Rick Bozich has three keys to a Cardinal victory in Tallahassee.
3. Bench Play
By altering his starting lineup, Mack also altered Louisville’s rotations. With David Johnson and Malik Williams in the lineup, Steven Enoch and the two guards that Mack does not pair with Johnson (likely Ryan McMahon and Darius Perry) must contribute off the bench.
According to the Florida State media relations department, the Seminoles’ bench has been terrific, especially in the last five games.
Hamilton’s reserves have averaged nearly 34 points in that stretch. Only one Seminole (Trent Forrest) plays 30 minutes per game but Hamilton gives at least 10 minutes to 10 guys.
Do fresh legs matter?
They seem to matter. Florida State ranks first in the ACC in steals at 9.08 (about four more per game than Louisville). FSU is also second in turnover margin (+3.5) while Louisville is 12th (-0.59).
—We’re previewing the biggest Big Monday of the year on the latest episode of the CC pod.
—And finally, beat FSU.