UNC Basketball Prepares to Welcome Louisville To Chapel Hill

The UNC Basketball program has put together six consecutive wins and will look to add to that total when Louisville comes to town on Wednesday evening.
Jan 13, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels bench including guard
Jan 13, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels bench including guard / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The UNC Basketball program continues to ride its hot streak of reeling off six consecutive wins since the loss to Kentucky on December 16th. The Tar Heels have used defense and rebounding to fuel this winning streak, but on Saturday against Syracuse, they added the offensive firepower that we witnessed earlier in the season, dismantling the Orange 103-67.

The Tar Heels will welcome the Louisville Cardinals to Chapel Hill on Wednesday evening for a late, 9:00 PM tip-off time. The Cardinals enter the matchup 6-10 overall, and 1-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but one of those wins was an upset road victory at Miami just a week ago as a 17-point underdog.

ACC Network. Wednesday, Jan 17. 13-3. 441. . 438. UNC BB vs UL. 9:00 PM . 6-10

While on paper it appears that North Carolina should be able to take care of the Cardinals with ease, this isn't a game anyone should be overlooking and is one that the Tar Heels will certainly not want to lose, especially with it being considering a quadrant four matchup in the NET Rankings.

Outside of that victory of Miami last week, Louisville's lone win since December 3rd, came against Pepperdine. The Tar Heels and Cardinals share common opponents Kentucky, Pittsburgh, and NC State. Louisville lost all three games by the following scores, respectively: 95-76, 83-70, and 89-83. All three were home games for Louisville.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

On paper, this is a game that the Tar Heels could make look a lot like the game against Syracuse on Saturday. It'll be another opportunity for North Carolina to enforce their will on an inferior opponent, espeically defensively.

This is a game the Tar Heels can not overlook, no matter what the Cardinals' record is. If North Carolina can continue to keep the same defensive intensity and make life difficult on a Louisville offense that averages 73.8 points per game and shoots 32.1% from beyond the arc, it could be a rout in Chapel Hill.

Something to Watch For

Getting to the charity stripe could be a point of emphasis in this one. Louisville is one of the few teams that is close to averaging the amount of free throw attempts per game that North Carolina has this season. The Tar Heels are getting to the line 25 times per game, while the Cardinals attempt 23.6 free throws per game.

Both teams are in the same range on their free throw percentage as well, with Louisville making 74.6% and North Carolina converting 76%. If the Cardinals have any hopes of pulling an upset on Wednesday evening, free throws could be crucial.

Against the Hurricanes when Louisville knocked off Miami by having one of their best offensive performances of the season, shooting an efficient 49.1% from the field and making well above their free throw percentage making 14-16 attempts (87.5%). The Cardinals also made 10-23 three-point attempts, good for 43.5% from beyond the arc.

Good offense that plays above their average is how inferior opponents tend to pull upsets. The Tar Heels need to do everything they can to limit the Cardinals on the offensive end on Wednesday night.

Bonus: It'll be interesting to see Jae'lyn Withers in this matchup for the first time since transferring from Louisville to the UNC Basketball program. How will Withers perform and will the Cardinals be prepared for his athleticism and skill set knowing more about him after he was within the program for several years.

Last Meeting

The Tar Heels have dominated this series as of late, winning eight of the last ten matchups, including four straight, and holding a 10-4 advantage since Louisville joined the ACC in 2014. The last matchup was last season on January 14th in Louisville, which resulted in an 80-59 North Carolina victory.

The Tar Heels had five players score in double figures, though only two of those players are on this year's team. Armando Bacot led the effort with a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds, following by RJ Davis with 12 points and two three-pointers.

Three former Tar Heels also had double figures, led by D'Marco Dunn off the bench with a career high 14 points and followed by Puff Johnson and Caleb Love with 12 and 10 points respectively. El Ellis was the only Cardinal to score in double figures, coming in with 22 points on the day. Current UNC Basketball player Jae'lyn Withers had 8 points and 8 rebounds for the Cardinals.

Projected Starters

No. 2 Elliot Cadeau (Fr. 6-1, 180) 7.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.5 apg

No. 3 Cormac Ryan (Sr. 6-5, 195) 10.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.4 apg

No. 4 R.J. Davis (Sr. 6-0, 180) 20.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg

No. 5 Armando Bacot (Gr. 6-11, 240) 14.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.3 apg

No. 55 Harrison Ingram (Jr. 6-7, 235) 12.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.5 apg