Just three days after losing to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2010, Louisville handed No. 12 North Carolina its worst home loss of the Roy Williams era with an 83-62 stomping at the Dean E. Smith Center Saturday afternoon.
It’s hard to point to one thing specifically as the difference between Wednesday and Saturday, because it certainly felt like everything was different.
Louisville came out firing on all cylinders, connecting on each of its first seven field goal attempts. It out-rebounded the No. 2 rebounding margin team in the country by nine. It exploded from the outside and then dominated North Carolina in the paint when the Heels were forced to overextend. It held Luke Maye to 3-of-14 shooting from the field. It had three players score 17 points, and all three shot 50 percent or better from the field. It had two different players — Dwayne Sutton and Steven Enoch — post double-doubles.
In the eyes of the NCAA tournament Selection Committee, quality wins heavily outweigh ugly losses. We found that out firsthand a year ago when a Cardinal team that lost to zero team that didn’t make the Big Dance but had just three wins against RPI top 50 opponents wound up not even being one of the first four teams left out of the field of 68.
My point is this: As frustrating as the loss to Pitt on Wednesday was, winning this one is much, much bigger deal. If this were a trade, Pitt on the road for UNC on the road would be Babe Ruth going from Boston to New York.
The Cards now have three Q1 wins, two of which have come on the road, and two of which seem likely to be over teams that are going to be top three or four seeds on Selection Sunday.
Two more quick notes:
—Before today, North Carolina was the only team in the ACC that Louisville had never beaten on its home floor.
—This was Chris Mack’s first game as a head coach against North Carolina, but Wake Forest was 5-1 against the Heels during Mack’s time as an assistant with the Demon Deacons. Maybe Skip Prosser taught him the recipe.
Here’s your final box score:
Enjoy the rest of your Saturday. I’ll assume it’s going to be a great one for all of us.