The Louisville Men’s Basketball team wraps up its short road trip on Saturday with an afternoon matchup at NC State. Louisville enters the second half of the conference season atop the ACC at 9-1 and 18-3 overall. NC State comes in at 14-7 and 5-5. The Wolfpack have lost two straight; one to Georgia Tech and, most recently, to North Carolina on Monday night at home.
Louisville leads the all time series 12-10. The Cards are 3-2 since joining the ACC and 1-1 in Raleigh. Louisville beat NC State last January 74-67 at the KFC Yum! Center.
NC State has four players averaging between 11.3 and 13.2 points per game. Senior guard Markell Johnson leads the Pack in scoring (13.2), assists (6.5), and steals (1.9). Fellow senior guard Cj Bryce scores 13.1 per game and leads the team in rebounding with 6.2 boards per contest. Devon Daniels comes off the bench for 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
NC State is not the most efficient shooting team, but they hold on to the ball and score inside. The Wolfpack only shoot 32.0 percent from three as a team. They shoot over 50 percent from two-point range and get the majority of their points from inside the arc. Defensively, teams don’t shoot too well, but are able to grab offensive rebounds at a high rate. On Monday, UNC only shot 2-9 from three, but they went 54.2 percent from inside and shot 25 free throws compared to only 7 for NC State.
Earlier this week we broke down the bracketology landscape regarding Louisville and the ACC as a whole (Link). NC State is firmly on the bubble no matter where you look. We talked about the lack of chances for Louisville to pick up good wins with the ACC in the midst of a down year. NC State has not looked impressive recently, but this is a quad-1 opportunity. As of right now, the Cards only have two such games remaining on the schedule after Saturday. So, as important as this game may be for the Wolfpack’s tournament hopes, it’s equally as important for Louisville who does not have the shiniest resume.
At this point, we can only assume that Chris Mack will use the same lineup he’s gone with for the past month. David Johnson has been subbed in at the first timeout and the 9-man rotation has been getting relatively equal playing time. The lineups have been working though. Louisville has won seven straight now. This is not a marquee matchup, but it’s by far the Cards most important game in two weeks. We’ll see if they come out and treat it that way.
The game tips at 2:00 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN.
Louisville 76 NC State 67