Following the loss at Virginia earlier in the week, it’s time to turn the page to the next road test, as Carolina travels to play Louisville. Carolina competed hard in Charlottesville, as they lost Armando Bacot early in the contest, after already starting off short-handed, Pete Nance was absent again. Carolina led at the half, but a combination of turnovers, and poor defense, led to their demise, as they lost their sixth game of the season.
Louisville basketball has seen better days, as Kenny Payne’s first season on the job has been a total disaster. The Cardinals are an abysmal 2-15 and are 0-6 in the ACC. Their two wins have come at home, but they’ve also lost at home to Bellarmine, Wright State, App State & Lipscomb. El Ellis is the only player on the roster that averages double figures scoring, at 17.5 points per game. As a team, Louisville averages 63.1 points per game, which is 348th out of 363 teams that play Division I college basketball.
Head coach Hubert Davis met with the media on Friday and stated that Armando Bacot would be questionable at best for this game. Pete Nance still isn’t sure when his back will allow him to play again, which has compromised Carolina’s rotation. Earlier this season, the reserve big man was ruled out for the rest of the season, after breaking a bone in his left foot. That left Jalen Washington as the only reserve big, and even though he contributed in a major way at Virginia, it wouldn’t be fair to ask him to be a consistent contributor as he’s still working his back from an ACL injury that took away his senior season. With that, expect some unusual lineups, until Carolina gets at least either Bacot or Nance back.
Carolina has yet to win a game on the road this season, and that needs to change sooner than later if this team wants to compete for an ACC regular season championship. Also, a loss to a not-so-good Louisville team could quite literally keep UNC from making the NCAA Tournament. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen:
Match Their Physicality: If you remember back to last year’s game in the KFC Yum Center, Carolina played as physical a road game in recent memory. You have to imagine that’ll be a focus once again, as they try to rattle a team that has yet to win a road game this season. Carolina was tough enough in the first half to lead Virginia at the break, but couldn’t sustain that level of toughness for a full 40 minutes, which is what it takes to win road games in this conference.
Force Turnovers: The Cardinals turn it over 16.6 times per contest, which is the seventh most in the country. When Carolina forces the opposition into turnovers, that leads to easy points in transition, which usually leads to a Tar Heel victory. Hubert Davis has been hesitant to deploy the full-court press that has worked so well so far this season, but this seems like a logical game to press early, and press often.
Ball Movement: In addition to being a team that turns it over a lot, Louisville also allows teams to move the ball, and score at ease on the offensive end. As a team, Louisville allows 13.8 assisted baskets per game, which is the most in the country. Factor in that Louisville allows 27 made baskets per game, which means that half of the made baskets they allow are assisted on. Carolina needs to make Louisville’s defense move because if they do, it will lead to open looks from all over the court.
Series History: UNC is 18-7 all-time against Louisville, and 9-4 since they joined the ACC. In the KFC Yum! Center, Carolina is 3-3, but they did win their last season.
North Carolina - 25th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 115.4 (18th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.5 (62nd)
Louisville - 274th. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 97.7 (299th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 106.5 (242nd)
North Carolina - 34th.
Louisville - 339th.
TV Info: Today’s game will tip at 2 PM on ESP