UNC Basketball vs. Louisville: Game preview, info, prediction and more

The UNC basketball team returns to the court this week putting their three-game win streak on the line. After beating Virginia Tech, Boston College and N.C. State at home last week, the Tar Heels hit the road to take on a struggling Louisville team that parted ways with head coach Chris Mack a week ago.

The Cardinals have been a disaster so far this season, entering the game at 11-10 overall and 5-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. While UNC is coming in with a three-game win streak, the Cardinals are riding a three-game losing streak and fresh off a disappointing loss at home to Duke.

But going into this game, Louisville will be without one of their top players as Malik Williams will be out against North Carolina as a suspension.

While North Carolina hasn’t picked up a big win this season, they are on a win streak and are hoping to build some momentum with a date against Duke looming on Saturday. The Tar Heels can’t look ahead however and really needs to take care of business on Tuesday night. As it stands right now, they are currently in line for a bye in the ACC tournament, and they really need to pickup wins when they can.

And Tuesday is a big opportunity for another win although it being a quad 2 game. Let’s get into our preview for Tuesday’s matchup in Louisville.

Key to Victory

Feed the paint. The Tar Heels won’t have Dawson Garcia again but they really need to get Armando Bacot going again and with Louisville missing Malik Williams, this is a big chance for UNC’s front court.

While Bacot hasn’t been as good as he was a few weeks ago, he’s still been pretty damn good for the Tar Heels lately. He’s averaging 16.3 points, and 12.1 rebounds per game this season and has been a double-double machine. If UNC can get Bacot going early, he has the potential to have a monster game on Tuesday night.

Also, look for Brady Manek to continue his hot streak. He’s been fantastic as of late and really has been a legit threat on the perimeter with his three-point shooting ability. These two should have big games for the Tar Heels offense.

Something to Watch

Don’t fall behind early. Even though Louisville is struggling, the Tar Heels can’t afford to fall behind early on the road. If they let Louisivlle grab a lead and hang around early, it could turn into a disaster for them. While UNC has been really good at home, they have struggled on the road this season and were blown out at Miami and Wake Forest two weeks ago.

With a game against Duke looming, UNC can’t afford to drop this one and have the potential for a disaster of a week.

Projected Starters

No. 4 R.J. Davis (So., 6-0, 175) – 13.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.3 apg
No. 2 Caleb Love (So., 6-4, 195) – 15.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg
No. 1 Leaky Black (Sr., 6-8 200) – 3.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
No. 45 Brady Manek (So. 6-9, 230) – 12.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.7 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Jr., 6-10, 240) – 16.3 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg

What you need to know

WHAT?  North Carolina Tar Heels  (15-6, 7-3 ACC) at Louisville Cardinals (11-10, 5-6 ACC)
WHEN? Tuesday, February 1, – 8:00 p.m. EST
WHERE? KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
LINE? UNC -3.5
LAST MEETING? UNC beat Louisville 99-54 on February 20th, 2021
ALL-TIME SERIES? UNC leads all-time 16-6
PREDICTION? UNC 72, Louisville 68

For more on the UNC Basketball program including coverage of this game, please check back with Keeping It Heel.