Following a 3-0 week last week, Carolina is now challenged with taking that home success, and taking it on the road as they travel to Louisville tonight. The last time we saw UNC, they dismantled Louisville 100-80 in the Smith Center, in front of the likes of Roy Williams and Michael Jordan. They shot 55% from the field, and 56% from behind the arc, as they put together their best offensive performance, 72 hours after scoring just 58 points, in an ugly win over Boston College.
Louisville hasn’t had the type of the season they wanted to have, as they are 11-10 overall, and just 5-6 in league play. Last week they moved on from head coach Chris Mack, as off the court issues weren’t worth dealing with, as the program hasn’t experienced the type of success they envisioned upon hiring him. Mike Pegues is 5-2 as an interim this season, as he coached the first six games, for a then suspended Mack. To make matters worse, Louisville’s best player Malik Williams, who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, was suspended last night after missing a team meeting. Without Williams in the lineup, Louisville doesn’t have a player averaging double figures scoring, as they only average 68 points per game.
The Tar Heels are still in the NCAA Tournament, as Joe Lunardi has them as an 11 seed as of today. A loss to Louisville would not only take Carolina out of the field but make it harder to win their back in the field of 68. Here’s how they avoid another road let down:
Play With Same Energy on the Road, As at Home: It’s evident that Carolina is a completely different team in the Smith Center than when they are on the road. Of their 15 wins this season, only 3 have come away from Chapel Hill, which is why they aren’t in a better seeding situation. They still have road trips to Duke, NC State, and Virginia Tech, after tonight, and they’ll need to win games away from home, to secure themselves a position in the NCAA Tournament. We’ll be able to tell by the first media timeout, if Carolina brought the energy with them tonight, as it was very evident in losses at Miami and Wake Forest, they weren’t ready to play.
Play With Rhythm on Offense: Carolina’s offense was functioning at a high level on Saturday, scoring a season-best 100 points, and put together their best shooting performance since a win at Georgia Tech back in December. They took the right shots on Saturday and played within the flow of the offense. Louisville is going to try to make the game ugly, and keep the Tar Heels in the half-court as much as possible. This is where winning that game against Boston College in that fashion comes in handy because they have experience winning games in an ugly way. With no Williams, Carolina needs to play inside-out, and let their perimeter offense be an extension of them attacking the rim.
Match Their Intensity: Louisville may not have a pretty record, but they are going to play hard for Mike Pegues. They took Duke down to the wire on Saturday, before falling short. Louisville is a proud program, and a home win over UNC will help salvage what has become a lost season. They’ll need to match their intensity in the Yum Center if they want to leave, with a win.
Series History: Carolina is 16-7 all-time against the Cardinals, with a 7-4 mark since they joined the ACC back in 2014. The Tar Heels are just 2-5 against Louisville in Louisville, going 2-3 in the Yum Center.
UNC - 34th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.1 (24th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.3 (74th)
Louisville - 119th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 102.5 (178th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.1 (86th)
UNC - 37th.
Louisville - 121st.
TV Info: Tonight’s game will air on ACC Network at 8 PM.
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