top of page

Heel Tough Blog: UNC vs. Louisville Preview

Well we played a game on Wednesday night and we won. That is about all you can ask for with the Tar Heels current situation. We have had 4 games postponed and with the Boston College game already postponed for next week it looks the Tar Heels will be back in a similar situation next week. The game didn’t do much for the tournament resume, but you play the teams in front of you. In this case, Northeastern was probably the best team that slid into the Heels’ dms. There was really no excuse for the Miami game not being made up and I wish the ACC would step in to assist in the rescheduling of games. You think they would since a full ACC slate gives teams a better chance of making the tournament and obviously the ACC wants as many teams in the tournament as possible especially since it is a down year by ACC standards. They didn’t though and we took the matter into our hands. Let’s be real though. Outside of Walker, Northeastern just isn’t very talented. It was a classic case of a more talented and physical team just wearing down a smaller, outmatched opponent. Thankfully the game turned into a 82-62 blow out as a close game definitely wouldn’t have helped our tournament hopes.

As mentioned in my preview of this game, we keep getting beat by things that have to be the main points in the scouting reports. We knew Northeastern was a team that shot the 3 a lot. They ended up going 10-30, but they got a lot of open looks that they just didn’t knock down. The percentage obviously isn’t great but they still made 10 3’s which led to 30 points, almost half of their final point total of 62. We knew the Huskies run everything through Walker and we knew he was their biggest threat. He scored 21 of the Huskies’ 30 first half points. We started to trap off screens in the second half and limited him to just 6 points. He finished with 27 points. Again almost half the Huskies’ point total.

To piggy back off of that, I am somewhat disappointed that Love did not use his size advantage over Walker to get to the basket. Walker is listed at 6’0” and Love is listed at 6’4” and is clearly a more physical player. I was hoping he would use a smaller opponent to get a rhythm going to the basket. He didn’t. Love went 2-8 from the field with only 6 points. He did have 9 assists which is a season high. He only had 2 turnovers. In that regard, it was good to see some improvement there as the Carolina system requires the point guard to be a distributor. We had 7 early turnovers, but cleaned it up and ended up with 8 turnovers in the first half and 10 for the game. We had a 22-6 advantage in points off turnovers and pretty much dominated every statistical category. We had a 42-22 points in the paint advantage, a 18-7 second chance points advantage, scored 11 fast break points, and had 40 bench points. The 40 bench points were a season high.

This was due to some nice contributions from Platek, Kessler, and Sharpe. Kessler had 10 points and 7 rebounds in 12 minutes. That is back to back high quality games from Kessler. He is doing a lot with limited minutes and you can start to see things clicking a little more for the big guy. Platek had 9 points in one of his best performances of the season. Sharpe had 15. The missed “should have been dunk” to end the first half still gets me. Just too many easy shots missed. Speaking of which Brooks had a rough day from the field going 4-13, but somehow that ended up in a double double. Brooks had 11 points and 13 rebounds. He definitely didn’t find his shooting touch in this game, but maybe a slightly bad game that still ended up in his second double double of the season will give him some more confidence. Walton had 14 points as 4 players finished in double figures. Bacot had 9. All 9 “normal” rotation players scored. Free throws were also much improved at 13-16.

Again this game did nothing for me really. I don’t necessarily think we found the rhythm we intended on finding and it was just another Q3 win. If the ACC won’t step in to help reschedule games then we can only play the teams that are willing to play us. Hopefully the NCAA takes that into consideration.

Side note since there has been a lot of chatter about Tyler Hansborough calling the game… just because someone knows the game doesn’t mean they can call it. He did settle in a little as the game went on. Just some production/logistical knowledge from previous experience… ACC network extra broadcasts are run at the university level meaning UNC handles all aspects of the broadcast from directing, producing, providing cameraman, talent, etc. UNC chose Kyle Straub and Tyler Hansborough. I called a couple of games with Kyle when I worked with the production team and I personally think he does a good job. Hansborough’s addition was just something to get the fans excited for a kind of “eh” game. With an ACC Network production the ACC Network division of ESPN provides the talent and director. On ESPN productions UNC is mainly responsible for the in-house production meaning the stuff you see on the video boards during games. Hansborough was there out of convenience not because he is pursuing a career in broadcasting. Carolina hardly ever does any men’s basketball broadcasts at the ACC Network Extra level (unless maybe we pick up another game next week) so I wouldn’t expect to have Tyler behind the mic again.


Carolina is 15-7 all-time against the Cardinals, including 6-4 since UL joined the ACC in 2014-15.

Carolina is 3-1 at home.

Louisville dominated the Tar Heels, 83-62, on 1/12//2019, in the previous meeting in the Smith Center. That was Carolina's largest home loss since 2002.

Roy Williams is 9-5 against Louisville (8-4 as head coach of the Tar Heels).


FEB. 22, 2020 – @LOUISVILLE 72, UNC 55

The Tar Heels played without Garrison Brooks (illness).

Minus Brooks, who was leading UNC in rebounding, Carolina grabbed a season-low 29 rebounds and was outrebounded by nine (38-29).

Armando Bacot had seven points and nine rebounds.

Andrew Platek made two three-pointers and scored nine points.


UNC is 13-7 overall (7-5 in the ACC) coming off of a win against Northeastern

Louisville is 11-4 overall (6-3 in the ACC) last game was a win against Georgia Tech on Feb. 1

The Cardinals of Louisville travel to Chapel Hill to take on The Tar Heels. UNC has played well at home this season and will have to do so again on Saturday. Every game feels like a must win at this point as far as the Heels tournament hopes go. We have a dismal record against Quad 1 opponents, only winning one game. Louisville’s last game was February 1st. Will they be rested or rusty? It is clear that UNC doesn’t play well after a break and that’s why getting a game on Wednesday was big, despite the fact that it did little to boost my confidence about our tournament hopes going forward.

It’s hard to say which Louisville team we will get. According to Louisville’s game notes for Saturday they will be playing shorthanded due to those players included in the latest positive test and contact tracing. Multiple scholarship players student-athletes will miss the game.It does not specify which players will miss the game. If they are missing key players it may be a good chance to get a somewhat quality win. It would be a win with an asterisk next to it since it would be a win against a depleted Cardinal squad. A loss against a team that is missing key players could be devastating to our tournament resume. But again we don’t know who will miss the game.

The Cardinals started 2 freshmen, 2 sophomores, and a senior in their last game against Georgia Tech. Slazinski and Withers started at the forward position. Davis is listed at center but only stands at 6’5”. Johnson and Jones started in the backcourt. They normally have a 8-9 man rotation, but again that may be out the window with missing players.

The statistics between the two teams are pretty similar with the exception rebounds, second chance points, fast break points and bench points. Louisville likes to score in the paint and averages a point less off turnovers than us. They don’t score on the fast break and the majority of their scoring comes from the starters.

Once again we will be bigger than our opponents. Louisville’s tallest player Igiehon at 6’10”, doesn’t see much playing time and isn’t an offensive threat. We need to be strong and efficient around the basket, both with post ups and offensive rebounds. We can’t miss easy baskets not with the way we are currently shooting from 3. Look for Kessler to continue to see 12-15 minutes and maybe more if other bigs get into foul trouble. He has been really efficient the past 2 games and he is longer than anyone else on the court. According to teammates he is super hard on himself during practice and games. He was one of the players getting up shots after the Northwestern game Wednesday night. Hopefully these past two games have given him some confidence.

Louisville’s top 2 scorers are guards and clearly the strength of their team. Jones is a senior and leads the team in both points and assists. Johnson is a sophomore and shoots over 40% from 3. We can’t let Johnson get hot from behind the arc. He was 6-11 in their game against Georgia Tech and had 24 points. It worries me that Walton would probably get the match up on him to start off. Walton is probably the Tar Heel most guilty of playing too far off their man on the weak side. Johnson is going to get easy looks all night if Walton continues to be somewhat lost on defense. Our freshman guards vs their more experienced guards will be a key matchup. Love has come down from his season best performance at Duke, but has clearly taken over the point guard role. Davis has fallen off quite a bit and now would be as good a time as ever for him to get going again. Walton hasn't shot the well as well as he normally does and he is a defensive liability. Anthony Harris is currently in the concussion protocol and didn't play against Northeastern. It would be big to have him back for this crucial ACC matchup. A win doesn’t boost our standing in the ACC but it would currently help build a lacking tournament resume.

I think the #1 key to this game is that we can’t start slow. It will be a shorthanded team no matter who is out. If Louisville felt the need to mention it in their game notes then I am going to take bets that there are either some starters or role players who will miss the game. We can’t let a shorthanded team stick around and gain confidence as the game goes on. We need to grab control of the game early, and establish our inside game literally from the first possession. This includes making free throws.

Again all of what has been said in this preview may be thrown out the window when the game starts because we just don’t know who Louisville will have available, but it kind of doesn’t matter. We need to win the games in front of us. There really isn’t any room for error especially since we will have to scramble again to find a game for next week.


bottom of page