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Louisville-North Carolina preview: Cards seek road revenge over UNC

What happened on Feb. 1 is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

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

Louisville Cardinals (12-14, 6-10) AT North Carolina Tar Heels (19-8, 11-5)

Game Time: 7:01 p.m.

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

Television: ESPN

Announcers: Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst), Andraya Carter (reporter)

Favorite: North Carolina by 9.5

Officials: Jeffrey Anderson, Kipp Kissinger, Doug Sirmons

Series: North Carolina leads, 17-7

Last Meeting: North Carolina “won” 90-83 (OT) on Feb. 1 in Louisville

Series History:

Possible Starting Lineups:


Relevant Videos:

About North Carolina:

As has been the case more times than not in recent weeks and as will continue to be the case moving forward, Louisville will face an ACC opponent squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble who can ill-afford a bad loss to a lightly-regarded Cardinal team.

On Monday, that team is the North Carolina Tar Heels, who exist as one of the “last four out” in Jerry Palm’s most recent bracket projection for CBS. UNC would likely be even more solidly on the wrong side of the bubble had they not been the benefactor of several unusual whistles at the end of regulation and in overtime of their 90-83 triumph over U of L at the KFC Yum Center earlier this month.

Style and personnel wise, not a whole lot has changed for Carolina since Feb. 1.

As was seemingly part of the deal when he was named the heir to Roy Williams’ throne, UNC’s playing style has not been altered significantly under first-year head coach Hubert Davis. They still want to score off the break and the secondary break, and they enter Monday night playing at the 37th fastest pace in the country. They also still want to dominate the glass on both ends of the floor, and enter the U of L game tops in the ACC and 14th in the nation in rebound margin (+7.3).

Two of the areas where North Carolina struggled the most the past two seasons — turnovers and outside shooting — have both been improved significantly. The Tar Heels are only turning the ball over on 16.9% of their offensive possessions (68th-best in the country), and are shooting 38.0% from three (14th-best in the country) as a team.

Defensively, UNC has been solid, but not spectacular for most of the year. They don’t force turnovers and they’re an average shot blocking team, but they dominate the defensive glass (5th best defensive rebound percentage in America) and don’t let opponents beat them at the free-throw line.

Individually, the flop-prone Armando Bacot remains North Carolina’s clear standout performer. The 6’10 junior is averaging a double-double (16.1 ppg/12.2 rpg), and earlier this season became the first Tar Heel to score 1,000 points in three seasons since Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson both hit the 1,000-point mark as juniors in 2017. His 20 double-doubles so far this season are the fourth-most in the country.

Former Louisville PG target Caleb Love has stepped up his production as a sophomore, averaging 15.3 points and 3.7 assists per game, but he has been plagued by inconsistency at time. Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek has been the team’s most consistent performer outside of Bacot. He was the Heels’ top performer in round one with Louisville, burying four threes and scoring a game-high 24 points.


—Louisville’s win over Clemson on Saturday snapped the program’s first seven-game losing streak since 1940-41.

North Carolina is 13-2 at the Smith Center this season, but has lost two of its last three home games to Duke and Pittsburgh.

—Louisville is 1-4 all-time against North Carolina in games played in Chapel Hill.

—In ACC contests, Armando Bacot is averaging 14.0 rebounds per game. That is the highest in league play since Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan averaged 14.9 in 1996-97.

—Louisville is 4-8 in games against North Carolina since joining the ACC in 2014-15.

—UNC is 14-1 this season when scoring more points off turnovers and 5-7 when the opponents score more points off turnovers. The only loss was last Wednesday against Pittsburgh when the Tar Heels scored 24 points off Pitt turnovers, while the Panthers scored 22.

—Mike Pegues is 6-6 as Louisville’s interim head coach this season. He is 1-5 since U of L’s parting of ways with former head coach Chris Mack on Jan. 26.

—Carolina is allowing 88.0 points in its eight losses and just 65.8 in its 19 victories.

—UNC leads the ACC in team free-throw percentage (75.6%).

—North Carolina is 11-0 this season when Caleb Love has five or more assists, and also 11-0 when Leaky Black has three or more assists.

—The Tar Heels are 8-0 this season when Caleb Love scores 20 or more points.

—Louisville has used 14 different starting lineups in 26 games so far this season.

—North Carolina has finished in the top 10 nationally in rebound margin in each of the last seven seasons.

—This is the first time a Louisville team has dropped at least 14 of its first 26 games since the Cardinals started 10-16 in Denny Crum’s final season of 2000-01.

—Louisville is 216-13 over the last 20 seasons and 13-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. That lone defeat came in this year’s 90-83 overtime “loss” to North Carolina.

—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 13-0 over the last three.

—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.

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: North Carolina 79, Louisville 68