After the 55-point record-setting dismantling of Pittsburgh on the road Tuesday, the No. 13 Louisville Cardinals return home to welcome the Wolfpack and star player Dennis Smith Jr. today at 1pm in the Yum! Center, the game can be seen on the ACC Network. Louisville is currently a 13.5-point favorite over the Wolfpack.
NC State also enters this game riding high. The Wolfpack defeated Duke at Cameron Indoor on Monday, for the first time since 1995. Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. leads the Wolfpack in scoring and assists at 19.5 PPG and 6.5 APG, respectively. Smith Jr. is one of the nation’s best freshmen and players overall, he’ll likely be a top-10 pick thanks to his athleticism, speed, and scoring ability. His jump shot is streaky, but no one in the nation has proven they can stay in front of the quick point guard for an entire game. However, the Cards’ signature 2-3 matchup-zone could give the freshman problems today, as he hasn’t seen a defense quite like the one that gives Louisville its No. 1 defensive efficiency rating in the country.
Louisville will be without Quentin Snider again today for the 4th straight game, and to add injury to injury, Tony Hicks will also miss today’s game after suffering a broken hand against Pittsburgh. That means the Cards will not have a true point guard on the active roster today. Donovan Mitchell proved he could run the point at times against Clemson, but Hicks had been coming along in Q’s absence so Mitchell will resume point guard duties for the majority of today’s contest.
NC State is dangerous, Smith Jr. is fun to watch and very difficult to slow down. However, Louisville is hitting their stride right now. Despite Q’s absence, the Cards have posted two of the season’s highest scores (92 against Clemson and 106 against Pitt) and have done so efficiently. NC State isn’t a defensive team and relies too largely on beating their opponents on the offensive end instead. Louisville may struggle to start, but the Cards will settle in and control the game the rest of way. Louisville 83-NC State 67.