LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It’s too soon for daily checks of NCAA Tournament bracket projections, right?

Who am I kidding? It’s never too soon for daily checks, especially with less than eight weeks (55 days) until Selection Sunday March 11.

Joe Lunardi of ESPN dropped a fresh bracket after the weekend games — and Lunardi has created a South Regional to Remember.

Let’s get to the Monday Muse

1. U of L, UK, WKU Tournament Projections

I told you Lunardi has the three local powers in the same regional. Here is where they are slotted:

Kentucky seeded fourth, Louisville 10th and WKU 12th.

The Wildcats and Hilltoppers are booked for Boise. If each wins (WKU would have to upset Cincinnati), they’d play a second-round game. (Hey, Joe, if you’re sending those teams west, can you make it San Diego instead?)

Louisville has an easier trip but tougher destination. Look for the Cardinals to play Florida in Pittsburgh — and then a home game against Bob Huggins and West Virginia in the second round.

If you’re a major believer in Lunardi or simply like to plan, the South Regional is booked for Atlanta March 22 and 24.

I also checked BracketMatrix.com, which does a terrific job of compiling brackets across the Internet. The composite numbers line up solidly with Lunardi.

BracketMatrix has Kentucky the final Number 4 seed and Louisville the third Number 10 seed.

Beware WKU fans: BracketMatrix tilts toward Middle Tennessee in Conference USA. As an at-large candidate, WKU is listed as the fifth team out.

The numbers will check tomorrow. I’ll keep checking. Promise.

For the record, Lunardi has Villanova, Purdue, Virginia and Duke as his top national seeds. The BracketMatrix tilts to Villanova, Virginia, Duke and West Virginia, but has not filed an update since Friday evening.

2. NCAA Championship Favorites (First Stab)

If you’re a long-time reader, you know one of my most trusted methods for selecting a team that can win the NCAA championship is narrowing the field to dual qualifiers.

What is a dual qualifier?

Simple: A team that ranks in the Top 20 in offensive and defensive efficiency in Ken Pomeroy’s points per possession scored and allowed metrics.

Typically, there are four-to-six dual qualifiers. On Monday morning there were three:

Purdue, seventh on offense, fifth on defense.

Gonzaga: eighth on offensive, 17th on defense.

Michigan State: 14th on offense, ninth on defense.

Warning: The numbers change daily. These three could disappear by the start of the tournament or they could be joined by teams like Villanova, Kansas, Wichita State, Tennessee, Ohio State and Virginia.

But these four teams have major flashing lights on defense, despite their Top 20 offenses:

Duke — first on offense, 87th on defense.

Arizona State —fourth on offense, 124th on defense.

TCU — fifth on offense, 121st on defense.

Arizona — 12th on offense, 72nd on defense.

Just for fun, I looked for dual qualifiers on another analytics site — Erik Haslam’s Haslametrics. He’s got five dual qualifiers:

Purdue, North Carolina, Michigan State, Ohio State and Tennessee.

3. Louisville-Notre Dame What To Expect

Fran Fraschilla will work Louisville’s trip to Notre Dame Tuesday night for ESPN. It will be his first Cardinals’ game this season, and he told me Sunday he’s been impressed by the work David Padgett has delivered under daunting circumstances.

“He’s building a great resume,” Fraschilla said. “I think he’s set himself up for a nice mid-major job or the top assistant position at a high-level program.”

Fraschilla said he expects Notre Dame point guard Matt Farrell to return from his sprained ankle. Watching tape from last season, he said Louisville had success defending Farrell with Deng Adel.

“Without (Bonzie) Colson and Farrell, what (Notre Dame coach) Mike Brey has tried to do is slow the game down and shorten the number of possessions,” Fraschilla said. “They’re trying to win games 56-53.

“For Louisville, the key will be making perimeter shots and speeding Notre Dame up.”

4. Keith Jackson Fan Club

First Dick Enberg, Now Keith Jackson.

The voice of college basketball in the Seventies and Eighties followed by the voice of college football. College sports has lost two broadcasting icons.

If Enberg was crisp and authoritative, Jackson was relaxed and comfortable, entertaining you like a great uncle who knew all colorful family stories.

Jackson called games as if he was excited to introduce you to Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Brian Bosworth as you were to see those guys play for the first time.

Jackson had a fascinating back story, one that was never truly told. He started work on an autobiography with sports writer Vahe Gregorian, but the project was scrapped by Jackson.

Fortunately, Gregorian saved many of his notes and transcripts and shared them in this story last weekend. If you enjoyed Jackson’s work, you’ll enjoy the piece.

5. Does Lane Kiffin have a (career) death wish?

Some capes seem risky to jerk. Nick Saban’s would make my list. It has not made Lane Kiffin’s list.

A former Alabama assistant, Kiffin must have more confidence in Saban’s sense of humor than others. Or Kiffin is comfortable with the idea of spending the rest of his career at Florida Atlantic University, Kiffin has taken a string of shots at his former boss on Twitter.

They’re funny. But are they risky?

6. King Clemson

Life will change for the Louisville football team next season in the post-Lamar Jackson Era. And Jackson is not the only Louisville underclassmen leaving early to chase NFL dreams.

At Florida State, change arrives with Willie Taggart replacing Jimbo Fisher.

But the one ACC Atlantic Division program that did not need continuity is apparently getting some — Clemson.

Continuity it is at Clemson. At least four Clemson underclassmen who had considered an early move to the NFL have announced they’ll return for another season of college football.

In the ACC, the road to the title goes through Clemson.

7. Anthony Davis to … Golden State?!?!?

You say the reason the Golden State Warriors are trending toward winning their third NBA title in four seasons is because of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant.

Can’t argue.

But I can expand the story. The Warriors have become the Warriors because of management. Shrewd drafting. Solid free-agent acquisitions. Solid trades.

The current core won’t last forever, and like any top management team the Warriors already have their eyes on the next generation of guys they want on their roster.

Make sure you have former Kentucky star Anthony Davis on the list. Reports (like this one) have percolated in the Bay Area that the Warriors are gaga about Davis.

Seems unfair.

8. Russell Westbrook’s Love Letter to Malik Monk

The NBA is not college basketball. Not close, regardless of what NBA-bashers believe.

Ask former Kentucky star Malik Monk, who is trying to make his way through his rookie season with the Charlotte Hornets. As a two-guard, Monk is required to guard many of the league’s most prolific scorers.

Not fun. 

Not supposed to be fun — as reigning MVP Russell Westbrook reminded Monk during a recent game.

9. Poll Results I

What is the biggest area of improvement for the Louisville basketball team?

Defensive intensity 49 percent

Rebounding 25.5 percent

Three-point shooting 18.3 percent

Depth 7.2 percent

10. Poll Results II

Which local college basketball is best positioned to make a late-season push for consideration for the Wooden Award?

Raymond Spalding, Louisville 38.6 percent

Juwan Morgan, Indiana 26 percent

P.J. Washington, Kentucky, 19.7 percent

Justin Johnson, WKU, 15.7 percent

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