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Louisville vs. Virginia preview: Cards look to solve UVA mystery

Go Cards.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville Cardinals (16-5, 6-2) At No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (20-1, 9-0)

Game Time: 7:01 p.m.

Location: John Paul Jones Arena: Charlottesville, Va.

Television: ESPN2

Announcers: Karl Ravech (play-by-play) and Dick Vitale (analyst)

Officials: Roger Ayers, Ron Groover, Michael Roberts

Favorite: Virginia by 10

Probable Starting Lineups:

Series: Virginia leads, 10-4

Last Meeting: Virginia won 71-55 on Feb. 6, 2017 in Charlottesville

Series History:


Relevant Videos:

About Virginia:

Ranked second in the nation by both AP and USA Today, Virginia (20-1, 9-0 ACC) has won 12 straight, including a 65-63 victory at No. 4 Duke in its last game. Leading scorer Kyle Guy (15.2 ppg) led four Cavaliers in double figures with 17 points.

As is typically the case, Virginia’s success this season has been due largely to its stellar defensive play. The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense (52.1), rank third in field goal percentage defense (.370), sixth in turnover margin (+5.4) and fifth in three-point field goal percentage defense (.291).


—Louisville hasn’t been a double-digit underdog since it was a 14.5 -point dog against Connecticut on March 4, 2006. UConn wound up winning that game, 84-80.

—U of L hasn’t won a game as a double-digit underdog since Jan. 24, 2001 when it beat Cincinnati 63-54 despite being a 14-point underdog. Since then, the Cardinal have lost eight straight games when being a double-digit underdog.

—Virginia is 9-0 in the ACC for the first time since starting 12-0 in 1980-81.

—Louisville has collected nine or more steals in six conference games, including a season-high 12 against Wake Forest that led to a season-best 28 points off turnovers. Seven different Cardinals had a steal, led by Darius Perry’s three. UofL leads the ACC in steals in league games (8.3).

—Virginia leads the nation in scoring defense (52.1 ppg).

—UVA is shooting 46.5 percent, 38.6 percent from 3-point range (3rd best in school history) and 76.8 percent from the free throw line (best in school history).

—The Cavaliers have shot 50 percent or better in eight games and have limited their opponents to less than 50 percent shooting in all 21 games.

—Virginia is 163-40 (.803), including a 13-0 mark in 2017-18, in 12 seasons at John Paul Jones Arena.

—Louisville is second in the nation in blocked shots (7.3 bpg) and ranks seventh in field goal percentage defense (.389) and 11th in 3-point defense (.305).

—Anas Mahmoud is third in the nation in blocked shots (3.41) and Ray Spalding is 13th in offensive rebounds (2.15).

—Virginia is an ACC-leading 46-4 (.920) in league home games over the past six seasons. Duke is second at 43-6 (.878). The Cavaliers also have the best road record in conference play over that span.

—UVA has held Louisville to 59 or fewer points in all six contests since the Cardinals joined the ACC in 2014-15. The Cavaliers are 5-1 in those have and have won four straight over U of L.

—After beginning the season unranked, UVA is now No. 2 in both major polls and is also receiving first place votes in both. Virginia is the lone ACC team to be ranked in the top three in four of the past five seasons.

—Virginia is the fifth team in ACC history to move from unranked in preseason to the top 3, joining Miami (2012-13), Georgia Tech (2003- 04), Wake Forest (1980-81) and North Carolina (1972-73).

—Louisville is one of four teams in the nation with at least eight different players that have made 10 or more three-pointers this season. Five Cardinals combined to make 10 threes vs. Wake Forest (10-of-25, .400). U of L is 11-0 when it makes eight or more threes.

—Louisville has a 30-18 record in its conference road games over the last six years (.625).

—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).

—UVA has limited its foes to 52.1 points per game (2nd best in school history) and has held 10 opponents to fewer than 50 points (UNCG, Austin Peay, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Savannah State, Hampton, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Clemson).

—Six Virginia opponents this season have committed more turnovers than made field goals.

—Louisville has a 29-10 record during the month of January over the last five years (.744).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Virginia 64, Louisville 51