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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

My guy Scott is still reppin’ in Gatlinburg.

—The latest NET Rankings have Louisville down at No. 342 out of 363 Division-I teams. That puts the Cards sandwiched between South Carolina State, a 2-16 team from the MEAC, and Presbyterian, a 3-15 squad from the Big South.

—The U of L women’s basketball team is back in action tonight against Boston College. Here’s a preview.

—Sadly, the conclusion from everyone partaking in this conversation seems to be “there is no college football equivalent for this.”

Also, those numbers don’t even include last night’s debacle.

—A Pitt player talked trash to Kenny Payne during the game, an edge Payne says he wishes he would see from his own players.

—Here’s Brett Dawson’s write-up of Louisville’s 8th-straight ACC loss.

—Cardiac Hill recaps the Pitt rout.

—We’ve still got five more home games to go.

—Young Manual football standout David Pellman (2026) has received a Louisville offer.

—The U of L men’s tennis team had no troubles with Bellarmine.

—Former Louisville baseball star Adam Duvall is set to earn at least $7 million this season with the Boston Red Sox.

—Gonna have to win a game at some point between now and the end of the season to avoid the distinction of being the worst power conference team in the history of college basketball.

—Eastern High School offensive lineman Quintez Thomas is coming to Louisville as a preferred walk-on.

—The CJ recaps Jeff Brohm’s work in the transfer portal so far.

—Despite being 2-17 overall and 0-8 in the conference, Jae’Lyn Withers says the ACC tournament still gives him hope (video).

—Jeff Greer’s latest U of L hoops newsletter focuses on the winnable(?) four games that lie ahead.

Louisville was 290th out of 363 teams in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings after the loss to Pitt. 290th! That puts the Cards on track to be the lowest-ranked high-major team in a college basketball season since 2011-12, when Utah ranked 302nd. U of L has the 320th-ranked offensive efficiency in the country, and on Wednesday night, the Cards committed turnovers on 25.4% of their possessions, went 5 of 20 from 3 and shot 33.9% as a team, with six assists on 19 field goals. There is no offensive progress as a team.

Still, Payne’s squad has four somewhat winnable games on deck, all in a row:

1/25 at BC

1/28 at Notre Dame

2/1 vs. Georgia Tech

2/4 vs. Florida State

That group ranks 195th, 146th, 144th and 154th in KenPom’s rankings. The Pomeroy algorithm gives Louisville the best shot at winning the FSU game — a 34% chance. I have seen Georgia Tech play. I have suffered through Notre Dame. To me, those are the two most winnable games in this stretch.

To the larger point, with an absolutely murderous finish to the season — seven of the final eight games are against top-60 opponents — I find myself wondering how critical these next four contests are for Payne and his future with Louisville. Not necessarily in the sense of his current job security — Josh Heird very publicly backed Payne just five days ago — but more in line with how viable his future feels. Like, how badly does Louisville need to win at least a game or two in this stretch for us to even fathom the Cards winning, I dunno, 15 games next season and 20 in 2024-25?

I realize it’s silly to think a 6-26 season could really help Payne, but compared to 2-30, a six-win campaign looks like a perfectly-cooked filet. You have to be able to sell something in the spring transfer market and into the final summer push for the Class of 2024. Saying, “Hey, we had a tough year but got a few wins in the ACC and started to feel like we had some building blocks,” would make a huge difference.

—The KHSAA has shuffled its football districts again.

—Pittsburgh Sports Now has some takeaways from the Panthers’ win over Louisville.

—West Virginia is in hot pursuit of former Cardinal LB Monty Montgomery.

—The Rutherford Show is recapping the loss to Pitt and talking nonsense from 3-6 on 1450/96.1. You can stream it here.

—And finally, beat BC.