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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Beat NC State.

—Spread check: Louisville by 6.5.

—Hassan Hall is transferring to Georgia Tech.

—The Washington Post’s midseason bracket projection has Louisville as one of the last four teams in the field of 68.

—After a brief Covid pause, Jeff Walz’s Cards are back on the court and set to host Syracuse on Thursday.

—Auburn beat Alabama last night and their players simultaneously did the “Crimson Crane” thing on the Tide’s home floor as the buzzer sounded.

—Carmel’s Pete Suder is Bellarmine basketball’s first commit from the 2022 class. Rick Bozich writes that the Indiana star is perfect for Scotty Davenport’s program.

—Last night in the ACC:

Syracuse 77, Pittsburgh 61
Florida State 65, Miami 64

—Louisville’s Pedro Fonseca was selected by Real Salt Lake in the second round of the MLS draft.

—Live sports accounted for 94 of the 100 most watched TV broadcasts of 2021. Football games specifically accounted for 82.

—The Ringer’s Kyle Mann has a good read on Auburn superstar Jabari Smith, who everyone now seems to believe will be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

—Bellarmine’s Dylan Penn scored 38 points last night in a victory over Eastern Kentucky. It was the most points scored by a player playing a home game at Freedom Hall since Wes Unseld dropped 45 for the Cards in 1967.

—State of Louisville’s From the Pink Seats podcast is out with a new episode.

—Dan Wetzel writes that the SEC’s chokehold on college football will only tighten unless the playoff expands.

Why CFP expansion gives others a fighting chance vs. SEC

It won’t necessarily alter who wins the title immediately, or perhaps even in the long haul, but it will change the paradigm for schools and conferences that are currently boxed out and falling further behind.

It will generate more excitement in more places. More interest. More paths to competing for the championship that can help spur ticket sales and booster donations and, perhaps most important, convince more recruits that staying home, or even heading somewhere other than the top of the SEC, doesn’t preclude them from championship contention.

Playoff games, especially those played on campus, will be a boon to college football. Showcases. Points of excitement.

Games such as this year’s Michigan State vs. Pitt bowl game would have been huge local events and big national television draws in a playoff. It would have celebrated and showed off two great seasons by two often overlooked programs. Instead, under the current playoff, it was an afterthought with moderate ratings and star players sitting out.

The playoff won’t directly weaken the SEC (indeed, the league will do fine under almost any system). It will, however, make other places stronger. Had the 12-team format been in place rather than the four-team field, the Big Ten would have secured the most bids and places such as Wisconsin would have hosted games three different times. That would help.

The commissioners of the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC acknowledge this. What are they doing with a 12-team playoff proposal sitting on their doorstep like an unwrapped gift though?

Screwing it up.

—Beginning in March, the Courier Journal will no longer be printed seven days a week. There will be no print edition of the paper on Saturday, but subscribers will be provided with a full digital replica.

I haven’t had a subscription to the CJ since I moved out of my parents house, but as someone whose grandfather and father both spent decades working at the paper, this still makes me sad.

—Tonight in the ACC (non-Louisville-NC State):

No. 8 Duke at Wake Forest (7 p.m./ACC Network)
Clemson at Notre Dame (7 p.m./ACCNx)
Virginia Tech at Virginia (9 p.m./ESPN2)
Georgia Tech at Boston College (9 p.m./ACCNx)

—Good read here on former Louisville football player Lincoln Carr, who is now practicing law in the same downtown building where his father shined shoes for 30 years.

—Pat Kelly is returning for a third season as manager of the Louisville Bats.

—Crazy ending last night between Kansas and Iowa State:

—There were two remaining unbeatens in men’s college basketball when yesterday started. Then USC lost to Stanford and No. 1 Baylor got stunned at home by Texas Tech.

—Louisville Report looks at the points of emphasis for tonight’s game against NC State.

—Alonzo Jones over at Big Red Louie thinks Louisville could be ready for the College Football Playoff next season.

I, uh, I do not share his optimism.

—ESPN ranks the 25 best players in women’s college basketball, and has Emily Engstler at No. 25.

25. Emily Engstler, Louisville Cardinals

Forward | 6-foot-1 | senior

Preseason ranking: NR

2021-22 stats: 10.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 54.8% 3FG

Engstler, who spent her first three seasons at Syracuse, was No. 7 in our recent transfer rankings. She is the perfect cog for the Cardinals, fitting in so well to their gritty style of play that you would almost think she spent her whole career there. Able to play all over the court and have an impact on all aspects of game, she leads Louisville in both 3-point field goal percentage and rebounding. — Voepel

Antonelli’s scouting report:

Two-way wing with defensive length and anticipation; provides rim and lane protection on elite defensive team

Skills, knowledge, experience to make winning plays

3-point range, strong driver, willing passer; versatility to play positions 2-5

Hailey Van Lith and Kianna Smith also received votes.

—Shoutout to my guy John Cassillo for a great run over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician.

—Lou City’s 2022 schedule is out.

—Pack Insider previews tonight’s game at the Yum Center.

—The site also lays out some keys for NC State to exact some revenge on the Cards this evening.

Casey Morsell, it’s your time. Morsell was finding his footing for NC State earlier this season, but an ankle injury that sidelined him for a couple of weeks really set him back. Since his return, Morsell has struggled with his shot and hasn’t had a double-figure scoring game yet. This has to change. Morsell is too good defensively to keep him on the bench, and his offensive ceiling is much higher than we’ve been seeing. Against Clemson, the junior did have 9 points, but on only 2-7 shooting (both 3s). Hopefully seeing the ball go through the hoop a couple of times will help him regain his confidence. He is a guy that can and should be giving you 12 points per game, and they’ll need him to start getting to that level in this one if they want to come away with the road win.

No more long offensive lapses! NC State has a trend going. They come out hot, and then they go into a long funk, allowing teams back in the game. This is tough because, without a post option on offense, they really are forced to live and die by the jumper. This is where you need Dereon Seabron. Seabron isn’t a selfish player, but he is the only guy who can constantly get to the rim. When the Pack starts going into these funks, it needs to be Seabron who gets to the line, stops the bleeding, and gets them back on track. This piggybacks on our first point, but we are looking to him to recognize these situations and force the issue a bit more, especially early on. Seabron should be getting around 20 shots per game. It seems like a lot, and he might feel like he wants to get others involved a little more, but with this roster, at this point, there is no other choice. It’s time for him to be shooting for 25 to 35ppg. I know that sounds crazy, but unless other guys step up and score it, it’s your best shot at winning.

—Cardinal Authority is keeping track of all the changes within the Louisville football program so you don’t have to.

—Tyler Harrell season highlights are here.

—Backing the Pack previews tonight’s game.

—The quarterfinals of the Boys LIT are set.

—And finally, beat NC State.