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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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That feeling after you’ve checked Bracket Matrix 35 times in one morning.

NET Rankings Update: No. 57 (down five).

—Chris Mack sits at No. 11 in USA Today’s annual database of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball. No. 1 just saw his season end today with his team at 9-16.

—Duke Basketball Report recaps Mark Williams’ star turn and the Blue Devils’ win over Louisville.

—Eamonn Brennan’s latest bubble watch for The Athletic assesses Louisville’s current situation.

Louisville (13-7, 8-5; NET: 57, SOS: 44): Whether or not you buy the theory that it’s inherently hard to beat a team three times in a season, we can surely all agree that it’s very hard to beat Mike Krzyzewski three times in a season — even in Mike Krzyzewski’s worst season in like 25 years. You wouldn’t be totally surprised if Duke went even deeper into the ACC tournament from here, and so maybe Wednesday night’s Quadrant 2 defeat will look different come Friday, but for now, it was Louisville’s first Quadrant 2 defeat of the season, sullying a 6-0 record in that space that ranked as probably the most attractive feature of their team sheet. Other than a Feb. 27 overtime win at Duke, the Cardinals, who (like many teams) had their fair share of COVID-related stoppages and absences throughout the season, failed to get any of the other Quadrant 1 opponents their schedule presented to them. More often than not, in fact, they got blown out. Frankly, this whole resume is just sort of blah. There’s still a pretty good chance Louisville gets in, but we don’t feel fantastic about it, and you could see a bid theft here and a late surge there (like, say, by Duke) robbing the Cards of their currently tenuous spot in the field between now and Sunday. We’ll see.

—Sports Illustrated ranks the 50 best players in college basketball and does not include Carlik Jones.

—A U of L baseball hat and jersey auction is happening here.

—The Cardinal baseball team is hosting No. 13 Boston College for a three-game set starting Friday. Here’s a preview.

—In conference only games, Louisville has been the worst shooting team in the ACC.

—Louisville is in the mix for Roswell, Ga., cornerback Ethan Nation.

—Interesting first-person piece from an Olympic sport athlete on NIL here.

—Donovan Mitchell and Montrezl Harrell are two of the 57 finalists to make the USA Olympic Men’s Basketball Team.

Added to the 2021 USA National Team roster, from which the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team will be selected, were - Jarrett Allen (Cleveland Cavaliers); Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets); Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons); Blake Griffin (Brooklyn Nets); Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks); DeAndre Jordan (Brooklyn Nets); Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls); Julius Randle (New York Knicks); Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat); Mitchell Robinson (New York Knicks); Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors); John Wall (Houston Rockets); Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans); Christian Wood (Houston Rockets); and Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks).

Forty-two of the athletes who were named as finalists on Feb. 10, 2020, also were confirmed for the 2021 list, including: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat); LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs); Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat); Mike Conley (Utah Jazz); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers); DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs); Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets); Paul George (LA Clippers); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors); James Harden (Brooklyn Nets); Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Lakers); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers); Gordon Hayward (Charlotte Hornets); Dwight Howard (Philadelphia 76ers); Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans); Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets); LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); JaVale McGee (Cleveland Cavaliers); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Victor Oladipo (Houston Rockets); Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns); Mason Plumlee (Detroit Pistons); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); Russell Westbrook (Washington Wizards); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).

—The NCAA has released the 10 announcer teams for the NCAA tournament.

—Chris Dobbertean has Louisville facing Drake in a First Four matchup.

—Louisville libraries are set to reopen on Friday.

—This is hilarious and absurd at the same time.

—The U of L women’s tennis team will host NC State and Wake Forest this weekend.

—Here’s the CJ recap of Louisville’s “listless” performance against Duke.

—Louisville lacrosse’s Caroline Blalock has been named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list.

—I feel really bad for the Duke kids.

—The 19th-ranked U of L lacrosse team is back in action on Friday at Central Michigan.

—Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News has Louisville in as an 11-seed.

—After upsetting top-seeded Siena on Wednesday, Rick Pitino has Iona two wins away from the NCAA tournament.

—BC Interruption identifies Pitino as a candidate for the Eagles job.

—This is why he’s the master of motivation.

—Here’s everything Mike Krzyzewski had to say after last night’s game.

—Cardinal Authority runs down all the bracket projections for Louisville after last night’s loss.

—Jeff Greer’s latest Floyd Street Tribune addresses the frustration of the Louisville fan base at the moment.

That this Cardinals squad, much like Chris Mack’s first Louisville squad late in the 2018-19 campaign, can’t seem to play with sustained high energy is both befuddling and disappointing. That Mack on Wednesday night essentially threw his hands up in disgust after a not-particularly-close loss — openly wondering why his team lacked energy and spirit in the second half after a halftime talk focusing on that exact subject — only added to the disappointment. We are five months into the season, and while this is a most unusual campaign played through a pandemic, Mack not having a direct read on his team’s pulse is concerning.

So, what’s the answer? I’ll offer the caveat that I do not make $4 million coaching an ACC basketball program, so digest my suggestions with that knowledge. I’m not in the Floyd Street facility every day, evaluating individual workouts and navigating the complex relationships of a team environment. Consider this an outsider’s perspective.

The easiest solution is either winning or losing a hard-fought, close game next week — if Louisville gets into the NCAA Tournament, which I do think it will. Tournament success washes off (some of) the stink from an uneven season, and Mack’s best-performing Xavier teams in terms of postseason runs always advanced deeper than expected given their seeding. To win a tournament game, Louisville has to do three things: (1) Play with exemplary effort; (2) move off the ball and create energy on offense; and (3) pose at least a shred of a 3-point threat. Two of those three things involve attitude. Winning a game with effort and energy will go a long way toward easing some of the anger, and honestly, even losing a close game while checking the enthusiasm boxes might help, too.

But after that, whenever this season ends, Louisville’s roster needs a shakeup. Louisville has to find players who play with fire. It’d help a lot if they can consistently shoot, too. The current playing roster includes a bunch of even-keeled, funny and smart guys who have good chemistry, but the killer switch just doesn’t seem to be there as a collective unit. The Cards have to find someone who can step in and light that fire. That person (or those people) could be in the incoming class or they could be another transfer or two — that I don’t know. But Louisville needs a major infusion of energy and shooting touch.

Year 4 cannot look like Years 1 and 3. Both of those seasons have solid contextual elements that created real challenges — Year 1 included a carryover roster from the prior coaching staff, fitting a square peg into a round hole with a completely new style of play, and Year 3 has been played through a pandemic. Year 4 won’t have the same caveats.

—Rick Bozich feels confident that the Cards are in.

—And finally, Louisville Report looks at the bid stealers that are still out there and could hurt Louisville.

Cards fans should be keeping an eye on the Big East, where five of the seven teams still alive are out of the NCAA tournament at the moment. Rooting against Ole Miss, Colorado State, Boise State and Utah State would also be wise.