The Louisville Cardinals (10-5 / 1-1 ACC) head to Chapel Hill to take on the #12 ranked North Carolina Tarheels (12-3 / 2-0 ACC) in one of many 12 p.m. ET games that highlight a great day of college hoops.
The Cardinals arrive to the Dean Smith Center having lost their last game to Pittsburgh, as the Panthers ended the 23-game ACC losing streak to now leave Louisville 1 – 1 in ACC play. Louisville has lost 2 of their last 3 games after closing out their non-conference schedule with a loss to rivals Kentucky, although a win over Miami is sandwiched in between.
The Tarheels carry a modest 4-game win streak into tonight’s tip at the Dean Dome, as they follow up their 90 – 82 win over rivals N.C State to start ACC play 2 – 0. North Carolina just cracked the top-10 in the Power Rankings as a result of the hot start, jumping up a spot from last week’s placement of 11th.
The Cardinals Arrive As Dogs To The Dean Dome On Saturday
The Cardinals are certainly aware that they will be underdogs to the #12 ranked Tarheels, especially with the Heels coming off their big win over N.C State last time out to extend their win streak to 4 games, with 2 ACC wins under their belts to start conference play.
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) January 12, 2019
Louisville had won 6 of their previous 7 games before the loss to rival Kentucky as non-conference play came to a conclusion. The recent loss to Pitt might be a concern, as the Panthers opened their ACC docket against North Carolina, and took an 85 – 60 thumping by the Heels on January 5.
While the Cardinals watched Trey McGowens set a Panther freshman team-record with 33 points in the 89 – 86 overtime loss to Pitt last time out, senior guard Christen Cunningham found his way to a 23-point night to bring his average over the double-digit mark with his 10.6 PPG. Cunningham is 2nd on this club in scoring behind sophomore, Buffalo, NY native Jordan Nwora, who has no second-year slump to mention, to say the least.
Nwora averaged just over 5 PPG as a freshman and brought in a whopping 2.2 boards a game, but this season he is a 17.3 PPG 8.3 RBG guy, and that is a pretty nice jump in stats for head coach Chris Mack.
The Heels Crack The Top-10 Power Rankings At 12-3
Tar Heels Head Coach Roy Williams extended his dominant record over the Wolfpack last time out with a road win in Raleigh that brought his record to 29 – 4 in 33 meetings against N.C State. An even more obnoxious 14 wins from 16 meetings in the Wolfpack’s barn really adds insult to injury, but the past is the past and it’s time to carry on further into the ACC schedule.
The Heels offense is among the best in the nation, as they rank 4th while putting up 89.9 PPG. No one in the land has a better rebounding number on the offensive glass as well, as Carolina brings in 45.5 ORPG.
The obvious concern for Heels fans is the health of leading scorer Cameron Johnson, as the senior guard left the last game being helped to the locker room after only 23 minutes on the court. Johnson had a double-double already secured with 15 points and 11 boards, so keep an eye out for his availability tonight.
As it stands, Johnson and sophomore forward Sterling Manley are listed as questionable tonight, as Manley has missed the last 3 games since coming out of the game against Davidson on December 29. Unfortunately, Manley has spent most of his 2019 rehabbing, but he is close to coming back soon. Manley only averages 4.4 PPG, but he a contributor in many ways outside of just the scoreboard.
Roy Williams has no problem reaching deep into that bench of his anyway, but obviously the possible loss of Johnson could take 16.2 PPG off the board should he be a no-go.
Luke May and Coby White will just have to pitch in a bit more then they already do, and they both have done that nicely this year. Each player is averaging over 14 PPG, as May is grabbing exactly 10 RBG in his senior season.
• Over is 7-2 in Tar Heels last 9 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400.
• Cardinals are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss.
• Over is 4-0 in Cardinals last 4 vs. Atlantic Coast.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I will gladly offer the Cards with some double-digit love man, I mean okay they lost to Kentucky by 13 among their 5 losses, but Louisville doesn’t get beat up very often even in Chapel Hill. Find me the last time Louisville lost by 12 or more to the Heels, because you’ll be going back past this century to find that stat.
Louisville +12 is the 4* Play on the Side.
Prediction: Louisville +12
Full-Game Total Pick
Over 158 – 4* and enjoy the high-noon shootout.
Prediction: Over 158