No. 15 Louisville Cardinals (16-5, 7-1) vs. No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels (16-4, 6-1)
Game Time: 2:05 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Mike Couzens (play-by-play) and Chris Spatola (analyst)
Officials: Ted Valentine, Bert Smith, Earl Walton
Favorite: North Carolina by 1.5
Series: North Carolina leads, 13-6
Last Meeting: Louisville won 83-62 on Jan. 12, 2019 in Chapel Hill
Probable Starting Lineups:
About North Carolina:
Just as they were three weeks ago, North Carolina is one of the most talented offensive teams in the country and one which plays at the fifth-fastest pace in America. The Heels have won four straight since their loss to Louisville, with those four triumphs coming by an average of 14.8 ppg.
Since being held without a field goal against U of L on Jan. 12, UNC freshman PG Coby White has been outstanding. White is 28 for 52 (.538) from the floor, 15 for 31 (.484) from three-point range, has scored 78 points (19.5) and had 23 assists (5.8) over UNC’s last four games. On the season, he leads the team in assists (4.3 apg) and is second in scoring (15.2 ppg).
Cameron Johnson, Carolina’s leading scorer at 15.8 ppg, has dropped 22 in two of the Heels’ last three games. Over those three games, he’s buried 11 three-pointers. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Luke Maye (13.9 ppg/9.7 rpg) has remained solidly productive but not overwhelming since his 3-for-14 shooting performance against the Cards.
The biggest change in UNC since the first game with Louisville might be the increased playing time for Nassir Little. The likely top five NBA Draft pick has scored in double figures in three of the Heels’ last four games, and has played 20 or more minutes in the last two.
Turnovers remain something of an issue for North Carolina, although they’re unlikely to commit as any unforced ones on Saturday as they did in round one with U of L. A reliance on a smaller lineup has also increased the Heels’ pace of play in recent weeks, making Louisville’s ability to continue playing stellar transition defense even more important than it was in the meeting last month.
STRENGTHS: Transition offense, three-point shooting, Nas Little improvement, free-throw shooting, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, athleticism.
WEAKNESSES: Getting to the free-throw line, turnovers, transition defense, interior defense, interior scoring, generating points off turnovers.
—Louisville’s 21-point win in Chapel Hill earlier this season was North Carolina’s most lopsided home loss under head coach Roy Williams.
—U of L has declared Saturday’s game a “White Out,” and fans are being encouraged to wear white.
—Louisville will be wearing special uniforms paying tribute to Muhammad Ali.
—North Carolina is 4-0 in ACC road games so far this season. The Tar Heels have won their first five ACC road games just once in the Roy Williams Era, in 2007-08, when UNC went 8-0 on the road in league play.
—The Heels are 6-1 in true road games overall.
—Roy Williams is 83-47 all-time in ACC road games, a winning percentage of .638 that is the second-best in league history.
—Louisville’s current six-game win streak is its longest conference winning streak since joining the ACC. It’s also the longest active conference winning streak in the league.
—Louisville’s 7-1 league mark is its best start to a conference season since joining the ACC in 2014-15.
—North Carolina has made 38 three-pointers in its last three games (nine at Miami, 16 vs. Virginia Tech and 13 at Georgia Tech). That is three more three-point field goals than any other three-game stretch in UNC basketball history. The school record for most three-pointers in four consecutive games is 47, which Carolina has made in its last four games. The previous four-game high was 45 in 2012-13.
—Louisville has a 46-12 record in its conference home games over the last six years (.793). U of L has the fourth-most conference home wins in its five years in the ACC with a 31-9 ACC home record.
—Louisville is 7-0 in home rematches played on Groundhog Day, winning those games by an average of 15 points. The Cards have won 28 of their last 30 rematch games overall.
—UNC freshman PG Coby White is 28 for 52 (.538) from the floor, 15 for 31 (.484) from three-point range, has scored 78 points (19.5) and had 23 assists (5.8) in the last four games since he did not make a field goal in the loss to Louisville.
—Jordan Nwora is the second-most improved scorer in the nation with his 18.2 scoring average up 12.5 ppg from his 5.7 average last year.
—UNC is 1-4 against the Cardinals in Louisville, including 1-2 in the KFC Yum Center. The Heels won in the Yum Center last season, 93-76. That remains the largest margin of defeat for a Cardinal team in Yum Center history.
—The last team to beat North Carolina twice in the regular season was Duke in 2015. The last non-Duke team to achieve the feat was Miami in 2013.
—Roy Williams is 7-4 against Louisville (6-3 at Carolina, 1-1 at Kansas).
—Chris Mack is 1-0 against North Carolina. Wake Forest was also 5-1 against the Heels during Mack’s time as an assistant with the Demon Deacons.
—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the past 17 seasons, excluding preseason polls (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, and North Carolina).
—Louiville is 3-2 in games against top 25 opponents so far this season.
—Louisville and Kentucky are the only two teams to out-rebound North Carolina this season. The Heels lost both games.
—North Carolina currently ranks second in the nation in assists and rebounds per game, third in scoring and fifth in rebound margin.
—Louisville is 15-0 this season when shooting a better percentage from the field than its opponent.
—Louisville has won 148 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 16 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 79, North Carolina 77