Louisville Cardinals (2-15, 0-6) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (11-6, 3-3)
Game Time: 2 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Dave O’Brien (play-by-play), Cory Alexander (analyst) and Angel Gray (sideline)
Favorite: North Carolina by 13
Series: North Carolina leads, 18-7
Last Meeting: North Carolina won, 70-63, on Feb. 21, 2022 in Chapel Hill
Probable Starting Lineups:
- G El Ellis (6-3, 180, Sr.)
- G/F Mike James (6-5, 215, R-Fr.)
- F Jae’Lyn Withers (6-9, 220, R-Jr.)
- F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (6-10, 250, So.)
- F Sydney Curry (6-8, 270, Sr.)
- G R.J. Davis (6-0, 175, Jr.)
- G Caleb Love (6-4, 200, Jr.)
- G/F Puff Johnson (6-8, 200, Jr.)
- F Leaky Black (6-9, 205, Gr.)
- F Jalen Washington (6-10, 225, Fr.)
About North Carolina:
For the second straight year, North Carolina is in the midst of a surprising up and down campaign that has been a bit more down than the fan base would care for. Tar Heel Nation is just hopeful that the second half of 2022-23 goes about the same as the second half of the 2021-22, which saw UNC end its NCAA tournament run in the national title game.
Adding worry to the Carolina side at the moment is the fact its starting frontcourt of preseason ACC Player of the Year Armando Bacot and Northwestern transfer Pete Nance are both likely to miss Saturday’s games with injuries. Even with that combined 28 points and 17 rebounds out of the lineup, there are still plenty of reasons for UNC fans to believe their team can take care of business against the Cards.
When they’re playing well, Carolina has the most dynamic backcourt in the conference in Caleb Love (16.6 ppg/3.4 apg) and RJ Davis (16.4 ppg/3.2 apg). The college basketball world all saw that firsthand last March. The pair do, however, continue to be a bit more uneven than Hubert Davis would like, especially when it comes to taking care of the ball and outside shooting.
Defensive star Leaky Black (7.4 ppg) is also back after playing a key role on last year’s squad. Though he’s not known as a primary offensive threat, more will likely be asked of Black on that end of the floor with Bacot and Nance sidelines. The guy has always seemed to hit a key shot against Louisville in the past, so don’t be shocked to see that trend continue.
With Bacot out, 6’10 freshman Jalen Washington will likely get the call in the middle. Johnson is skilled but raw, and while he’ll have a couple of inches on Sydney Curry, he’ll also be giving up about 50 pounds to the Cardinal center. This is a game where Curry should have the potential to put up some large offensive numbers.
Carolina’s style has not changed much during the transition from Roy Williams to Davis. They still play fast, they try to score out of the secondary break, and they take chances on defense.
Louisville was right there in both of these games last season. Now let’s see if they can get over the hump and pull a stunner on Saturday.
—Saturday’s game has been deemed a “White Out” by U of L. Fans attending are encouraged to wear white.
—Louisville is 5-3 all-time in home games against North Carolina, including 3-3 inside the KFC Yum Center.
—Louisville is 4-9 in games against North Carolina since joining the ACC in 2014-15.
—North Carolina has won three straight and five of the last six against Louisville.
—Louisville is 0-6 in conference play for the first time since the 1940-41 season.
—Mike James is the first Louisville freshman to score at least 17 points in three straight games since DeJuan Wheat did it in three straight games from Dec. 29, 1993, to Jan. 4, 1994. James has averaged 20 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 52% from both the field and the 3-point line over the last three games.
—Louisville is 5-30 over its last 35 games dating back to last season.
—UNC has outscored the opponents, 180-128, in points off turnovers in the Tar Heels’ 11 wins. The opponents have outscored the Tar Heels, 99-53, in points off turnovers in their six losses.
—North Carolina is seventh in the country in free-throws made per game (18.1) and 12th in attempts (24.6).
—Louisville is 218-13 over the last 20 seasons and 15-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. That lone loss came last season at home against North Carolina. The Cards have eclipsed the 80-point mark just once this season.
—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 128-0 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 157 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: North Carolina 80, Louisville 65