College Basketball Pick
The ACC is North Carolina’s Conference to lose, but both of these teams will give the Tar Heels plenty of trouble when they meet. But for now, it’s a question of who is second best. The Cardinals have the second best record, but part of that can be due to ease of Schedule, having not played any currently ranked teams in the conference.
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Extending that point, Louisville hasn’t beaten a ranked team all season, non-Conference included. Their biggest Games of the year, against Michigan State and Kentucky, were close, but ended in losses. The Cards will get a couple chances to get some valuable wins soon with Virginia, UNC, Duke and Notre Dame in Four of their next five Games.
Virginia has one more loss, but with better wins, has a better ranking than Louisville. The Cavaliers took down West Virginia and Villanova by double digits, while they also have a nice win over Miami in ACC play. However, playing on the road has been a major problem for this team, losing their first three Conference Games away from home against lesser competition (Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Florida State). They got a miracle win Tuesday night at Wake Forest after hitting a buzzer beater three.
These teams split their two meetings last year in low-scoring, hard-fought battles, which will likely be the case again. The main advantage for Louisville is that they haven’t lost at home yet. OUtside of that, the veteran backcOurt of Virginia will be ready for what the Cardinals throw at them.
Virginia is led by the duo of London Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon, while transfers Trey Lewis and Damion Lee lead Louisville. Will Virginia’s experience playing together be enough in this road Game, or will the transfers over power them? So far, playing on the road has been a real issue for Virginia.
As for the Cardinals, they go as Lee goes. Their leading scorer at 16.6 points per Game is a reason they are second place in the ACC. Lee is a fearless player that can shoot from deep, but when he struggles, they tend to lose (2-of-12 shooting at Clemson, 6 points). Lewis has been too off-and-on to rely on, but big man Chinanu Onuaku has turned it on lately, averaging well over a double-double per Game in Conference play. It’s going to be a bloodbath in the paint between him and Virginia’s Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey.
The absence of Mangok Mathiang was a factor early on for Louisville, but Anas Mahmoud has been putting in solid time as of late, most notably his 27-minute, 15-point performance at Georgia Tech last weekend. If Louisville can get that kind of production from Mahmoud every Game, they will challenge the top teams in the conference.
On the other end, Brogdon and Perrantes run the show and they’ll be ready for any kind of pressure the Cardinals present. Both of those guys have experience and are shooting the ball well from distance. Gill is also having a solid season (14.8 ppg), but in Virginia’s road losses, they need more production than that. No one else on the team is scoring more than 7.5 points per Game and that’s not going to cut it if Damion Lee is hitting his shots.
Tobey is an unreliable big man in the post, at least on the offensive end, and the Cavs don’t really have any other solid options, unless Devon Hall or Isaiah Wilkins have a good night.
Louisville need a big win at some point this season and this will be the perfect time for getting that.
Predicted ScoreLouisville 70 Virginia 66