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Monday evening Cardinal news and notes

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This poster rules.

—The third-seeded Louisville field hockey team beat No. 6 UConn 1-0 on Sunday to secure the program’s first trip to the NCAA tournament Final Four. The Cards will face No. 2 seed Michigan on Friday at either 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPNU.

—The Louisville baseball team’s return to the diamond after an unexpected week and a half off did not go swimmingly. The Cards dropped all three of their weekend games at Clemson, marking the first time they’ve been swept in a weekend series since 2011.

—The Cards are down to No. 15 in the latest D1Baseball.com top 25 poll.

—The Kentucky Derby did monster TV numbers.

—Former Cardinal right-hander Bobby Miller, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2020, will begin this season in High-A ball.

—Hoops Insights looks at the current Louisville roster and comes to the conclusion that Chris Mack desperately needs to add a playmaker.

For Mack, success is tied to playmaking

I mentioned above that Mack teams had 3 or more starters with an assist rate of 10% or better in 10 of his 12 years coaching. The two exceptions were:

—2021, when only Carlik Jones and David Johnson surpassed that mark

—2013 at Xavier, when Semaj Christon and Dee Davis were the only Musketeers above that mark

Curiously enough, those are also the only two years in coaching where a Chris Mack team was not selected for the NCAA Tournament. Those two years were also the two lowest ranked offenses per KenPom, with the 2021 Cardinals ranking 92nd in offensive efficiency and the 2013 Musketeers at 116th. Lastly, those were also the two years when Mack’s teams ranked lowest in overall assist rate. The 2021 edition was 313th nationally, and the 2013 one placed 291st, per KenPom.

Clearly, Chris Mack’s preferred style of offense relies on ball movement and playmaking from multiple sources. When his teams put up low assist rates, they also tend to play at slower tempo; the 2021 Louisville teams had the 4th slowest tempo of any Mack teams and 2013 Xavier was the slowest. This tends to show up in relatively few transition baskets; per hoop-math.com, 2021 Louisville ranked 212th in frequency of transition baskets and 2013 Xavier was 273rd. No other Chris Mack-coached team has been worse than 180th.

Based on Mack’s history, Louisville needs to have more playmakers next season than they did this past season, but it’s tough to find anyone beyond El Ellis and maybe Jarrod West who has that skill set.

—U of L football free agent signings as of the time I’m writing this:

  • Javian Hawkins – Atlanta Falcons
  • Jared Goldwire – Los Angeles Chargers
  • Dorian Etheridge – Atlanta Falcons
  • Marlon Character – Kansas City Chiefs

—Emoni Bates, believed by some to be the best basketball prospect in at least a decade, has decommitted from Michigan State. There is a .0001 percent chance he plays a second of a college basketball.

—Everything about the Kansas Spring Game trophy, including its mere existence, is hilarious.

—Yahoo looks at who got the steals of the NFL Draft, and comes to the conclusion that the Lions(!?) may have actually done something good.

Ten reasons to visit Louisville this spring.

—It seems pretty apparent that a College Football Playoff expansion is coming in the (relatively) near future.

“I’m not about to predict the timing, but there is a general acknowledgement that the CFP will expand,” says one commissioner. “Is it going to happen? Yes. Will consensus around one model emerge quickly? I don’t know. There’s a chance of that.”

In all, 10 of the 11 members of the CFP Management Committee spoke to Sports Illustrated for this story, some of them requesting anonymity and others speaking openly about only some aspects of the expansion conversation. They offered a more clear picture of the discussions—the potential timeline; possible formats; biggest hurdles; and, maybe most important of all, their personal feeling on expansion itself.

At least five committee members say they are pro expansion and another three are open to the idea. Their reasons include diversifying what’s recently been a field of the same teams, affording highly ranked mid-major programs an opportunity and giving a shot to more power programs.

Another two commissioners described themselves as undecided on expansion. None of them privately revealed they were against expanding, which bodes well for potential expansion since the biggest hurdle, most commissioners say, is arriving at unanimous agreement.

“There are 11 signatories to the [CFP] contract and everyone has to agree,” says Bowlsby, who declined to reveal specific formats discussed among the working group. “Reaching any unanimity with that many people with stakes in the game, it’s complex.”

—The U of L baseball team drops out of Baseball America’s latest “Eight for Omaha” feature. The Cards were replaced by TCU.

—Stop counting college representation in the NFL draft by a simple number of picks and start using this Selection Points formula.

—Dre’s little brother has a chance to be a good one for the Cards.

—Cardinal Authority has a very informative Q&A with Louisville football recruiting coordinator Pete Nochta.

—Four-star guard Rodney Rice talks about his connection to Louisville.

—Louisville Report has an update on the former Cards in the NBA.

—A very happy 19th birthday to JJ Traynor.

—ESPN college hoops writer Jeff Borzello outlines the roster changes for every team in the top six leagues, plus another 20 or so notable teams — departures, players still in limbo, expected returnees, newcomers.

—Borzello’s latest early top 30 does not feature the Cards.

—The video department continues to crush it.

—U of L OL Trevor Reid has made a “huge jump” during the offseason.

—Louisville swimming has landed a commitment from Julia Dennis (2022), a three-time state champion out of Mississippi.

—The Essential Quality red flags were right there.

—The Tennesseean gives the Titans a B+ grade for their pick of Dez Fitzpatrick.

—As expected, the Ravens have exercised their fifth-year option on Lamar Jackson. Jackson is guaranteed to make $23.016 million in 2022, a nice raise from the $1.771 million he’ll make this season.

—And finally, it’s never too early to look ahead to the Cardinals who might be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.