When and where: January 12, 2019, Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC, 12:00PM ET
The North Carolina Tar Heels will be looking to win their fifth consecutive game on Saturday when they roll out the red carpet for the visiting Louisville Cardinals. A nail-biter road loss to Pittsburgh has the Cardinals sitting at 1-2 in their last three games. The Tar Heels stand on the other end of the spectrum with consecutive wins over North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Harvard and Davidson.
Nwora struggles for Louisville
Louisville’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Jordan Nwora, struggled to find his game in Wednesday’s 89-86 overtime loss to Pittsburgh. The fact that the Cardinals played so well despite his struggles is even more disappointing considering there was a point in the game where they legitimately had the Panthers on the ropes.
However, they failed to make the plays needed in extra minutes to win the game, and Nwora could only muster eight points, nine rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes of playing time. He shot 2-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-7 from 3-point land. It’s a game he’d like to forget as soon as possible.
Christen Cunningham was the star on the floor for the Cardinals with 23 points, two rebounds and five assists. Junior center Steven Enoch came off the bench and contributed 14 points and seven rebounds.
Tar Heels stave off North Carolina State
A trip to North Carolina State was the second away game in a row for North Carolina, who has endured a tough two-game road stretch of conference opponents. They handled business promptly and swiftly against Pittsburgh, but there was a bit more fight when taking down North Carolina State. The Tar Heels maintained control throughout the game, but North Carolina State kept things close enough to make them uncomfortable.
Free throws ultimately decided the game as the Tar Heels sunk 22 shots at the line to propel themselves to a 90-82 victory.
🎥Win Column: NC State
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) January 10, 2019
North Carolina senior forward Luke Maye was at the center of it all in getting to the free throw line, rebounding and scoring on the floor. He contributed a double-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Guard Coby White finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson both turned in 15 points.
- Tar Heels are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against teams in the Atlantic Coast
- Tar Heels are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after a straight up win
- Tar Heels are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against teams with a winning % above .600
- Tar Heels are 39-19-4 ATS in their last 62 home games
- Cardinals are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games against teams with a winning % above .600
- Cardinals are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games against teams with a winning straight up record
- Cardinals are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Tar Heels will have to make a better effort to take care of the basketball in this game. They were fortunate enough to come away with the win over North Carolina State after turning the ball over 23 times. However, the level of difficulty won’t be nearly as high going from a Wolfpack team that ranked 28th in the country in defensive efficiency to the 113th-ranked defense.
Teams are also averaging 47.0 percent shooting against the Cardinals when they’re playing on the road, which is a startling stat when facing the No. 3-ranked scoring offense.
It’ll be the usual suspects—Maye, Johnson and White—on Saturday leading the Tar Heels to their fifth consecutive win. If not for Cunningham playing over his head, the Cardinals would have easily been routed by Pittsburgh. I’m not convinced that even a better effort from Nwora would even put them in the ballpark to win this game.
Prediction: North Carolina Tar Heels (-12)
Full-Game Total Pick
The under is 4-1 in the last five head-to-head meetings between the Tar Heels and Cardinals. While the Cardinals are decent offensively, they haven’t been nearly as consistent on the road. This is nothing like the challenge the Tar Heels faced when taking on North Carolina State’s fourth-ranked scoring offense on the road. Louisville will be the struggling road team in this game getting locked down by the Tar Heels on defense. Take the under in this one.
Prediction: Under (159)