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Louisville-North Carolina Preview: Showdown In Chapel Hill

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Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

NO. 5 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (14-1, 2-0) AT NO. 18 NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (11-4, 1-1)

Game Time: 2:05 p.m.

Location: Dean Smith Center: Chapel Hill, N.C.

Television: ESPN

Announcers: Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Dick Vitale (analyst)

Officials: Roger Ayers, Sean Hull and Michael Roberts

Favorite: North Carolina by 3.5

All-Time Series: North Carolina leads 9-3

Last Meeting: North Carolina won 93-84 on Nov. 24, 2013 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff championship game in Uncasville, Conn.

Series History:

Statistics:


Relevant Videos:

About North Carolina:

The Tar Heels are facing their second consecutive ranked opponent, hoping to bounce back from Monday night's loss to No. 13 Notre Dame. That defeat snapped a five-game Carolina winning streak that included wins over a pair of teams that Louisville has also beaten, Clemson and Ohio State.

Per usual, UNC likes to get up and down the floor and score points, but this year's Tar Heels are also a bit more defensive-minded than past Roy Williams teams. Carolina's defense is holding its opponents to 35.4 percent shooting this season, ranking second in the ACC. The Tar Heels also lead the ACC in three-point field goal percentage defense at .261. They have held 13 of their first 15 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the floor, only allowing Kentucky (Dec. 13) and Notre Dame (Jan. 5) to top that threshhold.

On the other end of the court, preseason ACC Player of the Year Marcus Paige is the guy who makes Carolina go. The junior point guard, who scored 32 in last year's win over Louisville, leads the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg. Big man Kennedy Meeks, who also hurt the Cardinals badly in their most recent meeting, has emerged as a consistent force in the middle, posting averages of 12.7 ppg and 8.9 rpg.

Notable

--North Carolina is the only college basketball program in the country with more 1,000-point scorers than Louisville.

--Louisville, a 3.5-point underdog Saturday afternoon, has failed to cover the spread in seven consecutive games, the longest such streak for the program on record.

--Louisville is looking to begin conference play 3-0 for the second time in three seasons.

--Roy Williams is 3-1 all-time against Louisville, and owns a 2-0 mark as the coach of North Carolina.

--North Carolina has held eight consecutive opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field, the longest streak by UNC since an eight-game stretch in 1995-96. Eight games also matches the longest sub-40 percent streak in Tar Heel history (single-game records date back to 1960).

--Over the last seven games, Terry Rozier has averaged 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals, scoring over 20 points in three.

--Rozier currently leads the ACC in steals.

--Louisville's 110 victories over the last four years are the most wins in the nation in that stretch. Louisville is the only school in the nation with three straight 30 win seasons, including a school-record 35 victories amassed by Louisville's 2012-13 NCAA Championship team (30 in 2011- 12, 31 in 2013-14).

--U of L is 156-9 over the last 14 seasons under Coach Rick Pitino when scoring 80 or more points (20-1 last season, 11-1 in 2012-13).

--Louisville is off to a 14-1 start for the 9th time in program history, and the fourth time under Rick Pitino.

--Louisville has won 25 of its last 40 games against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

--The Cardinals have scored 268 of their 1,106 points off turnovers (24 percent). Louisville is averaging 17.9 points per game off turnovers. U of L turned 15 Clemson turnovers into 10 points in its last game, collecting 11 steals in the game.

--The Cardinals are averaging 10.6 steals per game, ranking fifth in the nation. U of L has produced double-digit steals in 12 of its 15 games this season.

--U of L has a 55-29 record over the last nine years on its opponent's home court (.655). Louisville had the most road victories of any school in Big East Conference games over its last seven years in that league and was a league-best 8-1 in its road games in The American during the 2013-14 season. The Cardinals have a 46-25 record in conference games on the road over the last nine sasons (.648).

--Montrezl Harrell needs just 32 points to reach 1,000 for his career.

--Louisville is 27-0 all-time in games in which sophomore guard David Levitch sees the court.

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: North Carolina 71, Louisville 67