Pick With Analysis
Is North Carolina an elite team, or have they benefitted from a weak Schedule as of late? We’ll find out soon enough as the Tar Heels face Louisville and Virginia in their next two Games. After losing the first meeting, the Cardinals will not take this Game lightly.
Louisville has three losses this year, two of them at home against Top 5 teams and the other one on the road at now-ranked No. 13 UNC. It’s hard to really fault them for these losses, although they could’ve easily won that UNC Game. Already with two losses in Conference play, they know another home loss will hurt their chances in the ACC mightily. Not to mention after this Game, they have to travel to Miami (FL) and Virginia.
As for North Carolina, they are now 7-1 in Conference play with the lone loss coming at home to Notre Dame. The Tar Heels still have to face Duke twice, as well as Virginia and a road Game at Miami. They have won six straight Games, but their last five have come against mediocre teams, Syracuse included. To get a win at Louisville is going to take a lot.
In the first meeting, despite it being a mostly close Game, Louisville had the edge most of the way until their offense sputtered and UNC gutted out a 72-71 win. The Tar Heels controlled the boards, which is the norm for them, but the biggest stat may have been Montrezl Harrell’s nine points and five rebounds. For Louisville to win, one has to think they’ll need more out of Harrell than that. Terry Rozier and Chris Jones combined for 44 points, but they couldn’t count on anyone else in that Game. The Tar Heels had 17 offensive rebounds and that was the difference, in addition to being plus-20 in bench scoring.
The Tar Heels haven’t done anything that impressive away from Chapel Hill yet, so a win here would be great. However, they’ll need to play even better than last Game, which could be hard. Louisville is a good rebounding team and it’s doubtful Rick Pitino won’t have his guys ready to box otu. Harrell will probably have a better Game and Mangok Mathiang may see more time off the bench to deal with the size of UNC’s guys like Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson.
Louisville won the backcOurt battle in the first Game with Rozier and Jones and that can’t be the case again if UNC wants to win. Marcus Paige wasn’t great in that first Game with 10 points and Four turnovers. If Paige doesn’t play better, it’s unlikely the Tar Heels will pull out the upset.
Compared to last Game, Louisville will be at home, likely have an improved Harrell and probably be better on the defensive boards. since the Cardinals should’ve won that first Game, it wouldn’t be surprising if they took this one by double digits.
Our Pick – We have this Game a pick em so we’ll take whichever team is the underdog (this is being written on Wednesday). If the home team Louisville is the dog, the play becomes even stronger.