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Louisville vs. NC State preview: Cards face first ACC road test

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LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (12-2, 1-0) At NC STATE WOLFPACK (10-4, 0-1)

Game Time: 7 p.m.

Location: PNC Arena: Raleigh, N.C.

Television: ESPN2

Announcers: Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) and LaPhonso Ellis (analyst)

Officials: Doug Shows, Michael Stephens, Joe Lindsay

Favorite: Louisville by 6

All-Time Series: Tied at 9

Last Meeting: Louisville won 75-65 in the Sweet 16 last March

Series History:

NC State Probable Starting Lineup:

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About NC State:

NC State (10-4, 0-1) has won six of its last seven games and eight of its last 10, but fell 73-68 in overtime at Virginia Tech on Jan. 2 in its ACC opener. The Pack owns non-conference wins over LSU on a neutral court and at Missouri, but also suffered an embarrassing 17-point home loss to William & Mary to begin the season.

Wolfpack point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber leads the conference in scoring with 22.9 points per game, and his 137 foul shots rank among the nation's leaders. He is also averaging 38.9 minutes played per game, the second-highest average in the country.

Another name familiar to Louisville fans, Maverick Rowan, is second on the team in scoring (12.6 ppg), but has been up and down all season. Abdul-Malik Abu (10.8 points) and Beejay Anya (seventh in the nation in blocked shots) headline the NC State frontcourt. State also has a lethal outside threat in Caleb Martin, who ranks fifth in the ACC in made 3-pointers per game (2.5).

Notable

--Louisville has won its first conference road game in each of the last eight seasons.

--NC State fans are being encouraged to wear black to Thursday's game, and the Wolfpack will be wearing its alternate black Adidas uniforms. NC State won at Louisville last season while wearing black uniforms and special-issue Adidas shoes.

--Mark Gottfried has lost to Louisville while coaching Murray State, Alabama and NC State. Gottfried is one of seven coaches all-time who have lost to U of L with three different programs.

--UofL leads the nation in scoring margin (+26.3) and rebounding margin (+13.9), is second in scoring defense (57.4), and fourth in field goal percentage defense (.363).

--Cat Barber is leading the ACC in points per game (22.9), free throws made (116) and minutes per game (38.9). He is fourth in the league in assists (4.93), sixth in free throw percentage (.847) and eighth in assist-turnover ratio (2.38). Barber has only sat on the bench for one minute over the last six games, including playing all 45 minutes last weekend in the overtime game at Virginia Tech. He has not come off the floor in six games this season.

--Louisville is 12-2 through 14 games for the sixth straight season.

--Louisville is ninth in the nation in field goal percentage (.508). UofL has shot above 50 percent in nine of its 14 games. The Cards shot 50 percent or above on eight occasions all last season. UofL is 24th nationally in scoring (83.6 ppg).

--NC State is currently fourth in the ACC in defensive field goal percentage (.404). The Pack has limited seven opponents to less than 40 percent shooting this season. The Wolfpack is also 31st nationally (2nd in the ACC only to Louisville) holding opponents to .424 shooting from 2-point range.

--NC State is 17th in the nation in turnover percentage, committing a turnover on offense just 15.1 percent of the time.

--Damion Lee has been the Cardinals' top scorer in nine of 14 games this season. He is among the ACC leaders in scoring (17.9, 4th), steals (1.6, 5th) and free throw percentage (.892, 2nd).

--Louisville has a 28-13 record during the month of January over the last five years, including an 12-4 record in the last two years.

--Louisville's 135 victories over the last five years are the second-most wins in the nation in that stretch. Louisville and Wichita State are the only schools in the nation to win 30 games in three of the last four seasons, including a school-record 35 victories amassed by Louisville's 2012-13 NCAA Championship team.

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 70, NC State 64