Louisville Cardinals (10-5, 4-1) vs. NC State Wolfpack (8-8, 1-4)
Game Time: 9:05 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Angel Gray (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (analyst)
Favorite: Louisville by 6.5
Officials: Jamie Luckie, John Gaffney, Lamar Simpson
Series: Louisville leads, 14-10
Last Meeting: Louisville won, 73-68, on Dec. 4, 2021 in Raleigh
Probable Starting Lineups:
About NC State:
It’s been a little over a month since back-to-back clutch three-pointers from Noah Locke and Matt Cross broke the collective heart of the home crowd inside PNC Arena and lifted Louisville to a 1-0 start in ACC play. That was the beginning of a rough stretch that saw NC State lose five games in a row, including an embarrassing 14-point home loss to Wright State.
The Pack has been improved since the schedule flipped to conference games only. They’ve been handed narrow losses by the solid trio of Clemson, Florida State and Miami, and they’ve pulled off a 68-63 road win over Virginia Tech.
The straw that stirs the drink for Kevin Keatts remains Dereon Seabron. The 6’7 sophomore guard is the only player in the ACC to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Seabron, who was held to 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting in the loss to Louisville last month, has scored 21 points or more in each of the Pack’s last three games, including a 32-point effort against Florida State on New Year’s Day.
One of the best downhill scorers in all of college basketball, Seabron ranks second in the ACC in rebounding (9.4 per game), third in scoring (20.1 ppg) and sixth in field goal percentage (.536). Earlier this season against Nebraska, Seabron set a new ACC-Big 10 Challenge scoring record with 39 points, and became the first NC State player in 25 years to score more than 30 points and grab more than 15 rebounds in a game. U of L once again has to limit his effectiveness in transition and turn him into a jump shooter in the halfcourt.
The NC State player who hurt Louisville the most on Dec. 4 was freshman guard Terquavion Smith, who hit 7-of-10 from the field, 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and scored 17 points. He’s easily the Wolfpack’s most lethal outside shooter, and he had been red hot before an 0-for-7 performance from deep on Saturday against Clemson. His 2-point effort in that game snapped a streak of 8-straight games (dating back to the Louisville loss) in which he’d scored 14 points or more.
Senior forward Jerricole Hellems continues to have his best college season to date. He’s solid, but not spectacular in virtually everything he does, but is a safe bet to contribute somewhere around 14 points and 5 rebounds every single night. He leads NC State in steals and had three of them in the first meeting against the Cards.
The makeup of this NC State team is more or less the same as it was six weeks ago, with two notable exceptions.
The first is the rise in production senior guard Thomas Allen, who has been a completely different player since coming back from winter break. Allen, who played 16 minutes and did not score in the first meeting against U of L, was averaging 1.8 ppg before Christmas. He has been scoring at a 9.3 ppg clip in the four contests since the holiday.
The other change is that Keatts will have Virginia transfer Casey Morsell available Wednesday night. Morsell missed the first game against the Cards because of injury, and has seen his minutes dwindle as the season has gone along, but he’s still a terrific outside shooter whose presence U of L defenders must be aware of at all times.
NC State leads the ACC in free-throws made (252) and offensive rebounds, ranking eighth and 34th in the nation, respectively. Louisville did a good job against the Pack in both areas in round one, matching them with 12 free-throws made and limiting them to a season-low seven offensive rebounds, while actually grabbing 14 offensive rebounds of their own.
One area where U of L can improve from the first meeting against NC State is taking advantage of the Pack’s undersized frontcourt. NC State outscored Louisville, 30-26, in points in the paint, and those 26 paint points are tied for the second-fewest NC State has allowed this season. In the Pack’s other four ACC games, opponents are averaging 39.5 points in the paint and have outscored NC State by a combined 42 points in the paint.
Keep them off the offensive glass, keep them off the free-throw line, take care of the ball ....
and you gotta make shots.
—Louisville is 6-2 against NC State since joining the ACC in 2014-15.
—Louisville has a 62-18 record in its conference home games over the last 10 years (.775). The Cardinals have the fourth-most conference home wins in its eight years in the ACC with a 48-15 ACC home record.
—Louisville will play 10 games during the month of January, marking the first time it has played as many in that month since the 1997-98 season, when the Cardinals played 11 games in January.
—NC State head coach Kevin Keatts was an assistant at Louisville for three seasons (2011-14) when the Cardinals posted a 96-21 (.821) record, went to two Final Fours and won one national championship.
—Keatts is 1-3 as a head coach in games against Louisville.
—Louisville has a 47-17 record during the month of January over the last six years (.734).
—Malik Williams is third in the ACC in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and 21st in the nation in defensive rebounding (6.9 per game). He needs 14 rebounds to reach for 600 in his career.
—Noah Locke ranks fifth in the ACC in three-pointers made per game (2.5).
—NC State’s Dereon Seabron is second in the ACC in rebounding (9.4 per game), third in scoring (20.1 ppg) and sixth in field goal percentage (.536).
—Louisville has an all-time 20-8 record in games played on Jan. 12, winning its last three and five of the last six games played on that date.
—According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 6.5-point favorite in this game. The Cardinals are 8-3 straight up as a favorite so far this season, and have won three in a row as a favorite.
— NC State leads the ACC in free-throws made (252) and offensive rebounds, ranking eighth and 34th in the nation, respectively.
—Louisville is unbeaten this season when out-rebounding its opponent (8-0).
—The Cardinals are also 9-0 this season when shooting a better field goal percentage than their opponents, and 8-0 when attempting more free-throws than their opponents.
—Louisville is 216-12 over the last 20 seasons and 13-0 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.
—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better and 13-0 over the last three.
—Louisville is 34-3 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.
—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.
—Since 2004, Louisville is 130-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.
—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.
—Louisville has won 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina).
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 76, NC State 69