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Louisville-North Carolina preview: Cards and Heels square off in monster ACC showdown

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NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

NO. 7 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (22-5, 10-4) At No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels (23-5, 11-3)

Game Time: 9:05 p.m.

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

Television: ESPN

Announcers: Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst) and Maria Taylor (reporter)

Officials: Ron Groover, Pat Driscoll, John Gaffney

Favorite: North Carolina by 7

All-Time Series: North Carolina leads 11-5

Last Meeting: Louisville won 71-65 on Feb. 1, 2016 at the KFC Yum Center

Series History:

Probable Starting Lineups:


Relevant Videos:

About North Carolina:

North Carolina enters Wednesday night’s showdown with Louisville in first place alone in the ACC standings. The Tar Heels sit one game ahead of both the Cardinals and Duke.

Carolina leads the nation in rebound margin (+13.4) and is third nationally in assists (18.3 apg), sixth in scoring (86.9 ppg) and fifth in scoring margin (+15.9). North Carolina is fourth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency by Ken Pomeroy. Louisville has beaten the five teams that the Tar Heels have lost to this season, while North Carolina has beaten four of the five that Louisville has fallen to (all but Baylor, which UNC did not play).

Justin Jackson has made a full star turn in his junior year for UNC. The junior forward is averaging 18.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. His biggest improvement has come behind the three-point line, where he’s currently making shots at a 39.4 percent clip. Joel Berry (14.6 ppg), Kennedy Meeks (12.6 ppg) and Isaiah Hicks (12.5 ppg) are also scoring in double figures for Roy Williams’ team.


—Louisville is 13th in the nation in field goal defense (.394), 12th in blocked shots (5.7 bpg), 11th in three-point field goal percentage defense (.302), 13th in scoring margin (+13.7) and 11th in offensive rebounds per game (13.7).

—Louisville is 0-3 in ACC play as an underdog so far this season.

—North Carolina is undefeated at home, winning its games at the Dean Dome by an average of 21.0 ppg.

—UNC is 10-2 under Roy Williams in games at the Smith Center in which both teams are ranked in the AP top-10.

—Louisville has a 56-17 record (.767) in February over the last nine years, winning 22 of its last 29 in the month.

—Louisville has a 28-15 record in its conference road games over the last five years (.651).

—Since joining the ACC, Louisville is 0-7 against ranked teams on the road in conference play.

—The last time a 7th-ranked Louisville team met an 8th-ranked North Carolina team, the Cardinals won 94-79 in the Sweet 16 on their way to the 1986 national championship.

—Louisville is 0-2 against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and just 1-11 against the Tar Heels in games played outside of Louisville.

—This is the seventh consecutive game in this series in which both teams are ranked in the AP poll, and the 11th time in 17 all-time meetings that both teams are ranked in the AP poll.

—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games in each of the last 15 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: North Carolina 79, Louisville 75