UNC vs Louisville: Preview, broadcast information & prediction

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 26: Luke Maye
MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 26: Luke Maye /

North Carolina takes four-game win streak on the road to Louisville

The North Carolina Tar Heels are in the midst of a four-game win streak as they travel to the KFC Yum! Center to face off with the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday night.

The 22,000-seat arena will be rocking when the 14th-ranked Tar Heels take the floor against a Louisville team that has likely already punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but working to improve its resume and get a higher seed.

Thanks to the ACC’s uneven scheduling, Saturday night’s meeting will be the only time the two teams face each other during the regular season. And with just two weeks remaining until postseason play begins, the tilt between North Carolina and Louisville is even more important in earning a top-four seed and double-bye in the ACC Tournament.

The Tar Heels will be on the road for three of their final four games, and winning at least three of them would put them in a good position to do just that. Winning a road contest against Louisville, who is currently unranked but No. 25 in BPI, would be another nice resume win for the streaking Tar Heels.

One Louisville player to watch…

Deng Adel has missed Louisville’s last two games with an ankle injury. In his place, freshman guard Darius Perry has started in games against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh.

He scored just seven points in nearly 60 minutes of game time, a far cry from Adel’s average of 15.5 per game. Perry did, however, shoot the ball efficiently and record eight assists to just four turnovers.

Adel is Louisville’s best player and leading scorer, and the Cardinals are a much more dangerous team with him on the court. If he plays, North Carolina will have a more difficult assignment on the defensive side of the ball.

One UNC player to watch…

Luke Maye is having an All-American caliber season, averaging better than 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. He’s also averaging better than two assists per game and shooting 46.4 percent from three-point range.


After three games in a five-day span, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said Maye was the player that was most in need of rest. And perhaps it showed in his most recent game, scoring just eight points after games of 26, 15 and 33, respectively.

After four days between games, Maye should be rested up and ready for big minutes against the Cardinals.

His outstanding junior season has put him in a position to grab a number of postseason awards, including all-conference and All-American honors. With Duke’s Marvin Bagley III currently sidelined with a sprained knee, Maye’s chances at ACC Player of the Year could be increasing with each big performance.

Key to the game…

During their four-game win streak, the Tar Heels have played with more energy and attention to detail. Their play on the defensive end of the court has been much better, moving better through screens and closing out on perimeter shooter more quickly.

That will need to be the case again on Saturday if the Tar Heels want to increase their current win streak to five games.

The Cardinals have five players who have made 20 or more three-pointers on the season, and all of them shoot better than 34 percent from long-range. Defending the three-point line well and not allowing open shots will help keep Louisville scorers at bay, and the Tar Heels in the game.

And on the other end, North Carolina will need to hit its share of long-distance shots as well. When the Tar Heels are making threes, it helps spread defenses out and creates space for guards to drive the lane and big men to work in the paint.

Last meeting…

North Carolina and Louisville last faced off on February 22nd, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Much like this year, it was the only meeting that the two teams had last season.

After holding a narrow 33-30 lead at halftime, eighth-ranked North Carolina closed out the game strong, beating Louisville by a final score of 74-63.

Justin Jackson led the Tar Heels with 21 points and five rebounds on 7-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-9 from three-point range. Kennedy Meeks recorded a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double and Joel Berry added 15 points.

Louisville was led by sensational sophomore Donovan Mitchell, who had 21 points, four rebounds and three assists, and was the only Cardinal who recorded double-digit points against the Tar Heels.

Next: Luke Maye, Joel Berry named to Naismith Award top-30

What you need to know…

What? UNC (20-7) (9-5) vs Lousiville (18-8) (8-5)
When? Saturday, February 17th at 8:15 p.m. ET
Where? KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
Radio? Tar Heels Sports Network
All-time series? UNC leads 12-5
Prediction? UNC 86, Louisville 76