The Louisville Cardinals have been the laughingstock of college basketball for the last two seasons. However, the Cardinals have shown some fight over the last couple of games.
Louisville might be 6-10 on the year. However, they knocked off Miami on the road and lost to North Carolina State, 89-83, in a home game throughout their last two games.
The Cardinals are no longer an easy game in the ACC.
But North Carolina might disagree. The Tar Heels have added a six-game winning streak and are 5-0 in conference play to begin the year.
The Tar Heels have losses to Villanova, UConn, and Kentucky, but no terrible losses. A loss to Louisville statistically would be terrible. Therefore, Louisville will unlikely win on the road against a top North Carolina team.
But can the Cardinals at least cover?
North Carolina is currently -22 against the spread, with the total at 154.
Let’s break down the Louisville vs North Carolina preview below.
Louisville vs North Carolina Preview
As stated above, Louisville has looked better over the last couple of games. The Cardinals covered their previous two games as underdogs but are still just 4-6 against the spread in their previous ten games.
Over the last ten games, the Over and Under have also been hit in five games.
Meanwhile, North Carolina has covered against the spread in six straight games. The Tar Heels have also won six consecutive games and most recently knocked off Syracuse, 103-67 at home as 11.5-point favorites.
Still, like Louisville, the total has hit the Over and Under in five games each over the last ten games.
North Carolina has earned four straight wins against Louisville, including January 2023, when the Tar Heels earned an 80-59 win as 13-point underdogs.
Louisville Has Improved
The Cardinals are five games into conference play in the ACC. While they’ve gone 1-4, they’ve shown signs of improvement. Miami’s Jim Larranaga admitted on Monday during an ACC Coaches’ Teleconference that Louisville is a good team and getting better.
However, they’re still just 6-10 on the year and expected to maybe win four out of 20 games in conference play.
Louisville has been outscored by 41 points this year through the first five conference games. In the year prior, they were outscored by 73 points against the same teams.
The Cardinals were also outscored by 70 points in the first five games last season. So, there’s a clear improvement for Louisville. It’s just not good enough.
North Carolina Is a Top Four Team
The North Carolina Tar Heels are ranked in the top five after a dominating performance against Syracuse. They jumped three spots and even picked up a first-place vote in the AP Poll earlier this week.
A couple more wins in the ACC and North Carolina will start to inch closer to that No. 1 spot in the AP Poll. At this very moment, if the season ended today, the Tar Heels would be the No. 1 seed in March Madness.
That’s how well they’ve played this season.
Louisville Will Look Fatigued
The Louisville Cardinals have played their tails off over the last two games to earn some respect in the ACC. They already achieved a win against Miami and came close to earning an epic comeback against North Carolina State.
But a road game against North Carolina is unlike the other games. The Tar Heels are one of the best NCAAB teams in the country and won’t take Louisville lightly, especially after watching the film of the last two games.
North Carolina has shot 35.3% from three and 50.8% from inside the arc. They’ve also added 33.1% of offensive rebounds and get to the foul line at a very high rate. The Tar Heels should also be able to limit turnovers against a Louisville group that has earned under 17% of turnovers per game this season.
Louisville has defended the three well. However, opponents have scored 53.9% from inside the arc. North Carolina isn’t a high-volume shooting team from three. They’ll attack around the paint and should have success around the rim.
On the other hand, the Cardinals have only hit 32.1% from three and 48.3% from inside the arc. They should be fine regarding turnovers, but Louisville typically gets to the foul line a lot this season. That won’t happen against North Carolina.
The Tar Heels are more disciplined defensively and have also held teams to 28.8% from three and 46% from inside the arc.
On top of that, North Carolina has allowed only 26.1% of offensive rebounds and blocked nearly 12% of shots per game.
The Cardinals won’t get good looks from the floor. They’ll also struggle to get to the foul line and probably won’t do as well on the offensive glass. Meanwhile, North Carolina will have more success on the offensive glass, limit turnovers, and shoot much better from the floor from three and from inside the arc.
You might want to consider North Carolina’s odds to win March Madness. That’s how good this team is. Therefore, don’t expect North Carolina to perform poorly in its easiest game of the ACC college basketball schedule.
To conclude our Louisville vs North Carolina preview, let’s back the Tar Heels at -22 at home.