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The North Carolina Tar Heels and Louisville Cardinals will play a proverbial rubber match when they collide in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. on Thursday. They split their two head-to-head matchups during the regular season, but that is just about where the similarities end. North Carolina went 16-2 in the ACC with a sweep of Duke. The seventh-seeded Cardinals (10-8 ACC) advanced on Wednesday with a second-round victory over Notre Dame.
Routine opening win
The seventh-seeded Cardinals advanced with a 75-53 win over Notre Dame on Wednesday. Jordan Nwora led Louisville by scoring 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Nwora, who was named the ACC’s Most Improved Player after leading his team with 17.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, scored Louisville’s first 12 points and also pulled down nine boards.
The Cardinals stumbled down the stretch and have just two wins in their last six games, both against a Fighting Irish team that finished in last place in the ACC. Louisville might be heating up offensively, however, after scoring 68 against Virginia last Saturday–the first team to score more than 61 against the Cavaliers’ top-ranked defense since Feb. 9–and then dropping 75 on the Irish on Wednesday. The Cardinals also stepped up defensively against Notre Dame, using their length to hold the Irish to 26.9 percent shooting while winning the rebounding battle 50 to 38.
Split the first two
Louisville and North Carolina know each other well and have split a pair of games so far this season, with the road team winning each time. The Cardinals shocked the Tar Heels with a dominant 83-62 home win on Jan. 12, and North Carolina returned the favor with a 79-69 victory at Louisville on Feb. 2.
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) March 13, 2019
The Tar Heels are one of the hottest teams in the nation and enter the ACC Tournament on a seven-game winning streak, which included three wins over ranked teams (two against Duke, one over Florida State). North Carolina’s most recent win was a 79-70 defeat of the Blue Devils last Saturday, when freshman guard Coby White scored a team-high 21 on 4-of-10 shooting while also recording three assists and three blocks. Senior Kenny Williams chipped in with 18 points, including four three-pointers, as the Tar Heels hit 12 from long range–three above their average of nine three-pointers per contest. North Carolina led the ACC in the regular season and is currently third in the nation in scoring offense at 86.6 points per game.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral-site games
- 6-2 Under in their last eight overall
- 6-1 Under in their last seven overall
The Louisville Cardinals are:
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Thursday games
- 7-1 Under in their last eight overall
- 6-1 Under in their last seven games against teams with winning records
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Louisville attempted 66 field goals against Notre Dame after averaging 57.3 during the regular season. What does that speak to? Well, impressive rebounding and a minimal amount of turnovers, of course. If the Cardinals can play that same kind of basketball on Thursday, they should be able to hang with an opponent that is generally not overly motivated at the ACC Tournament.
Prediction: Louisville Cardinals
Full-Game Total Pick
The Tar Heels and Cardinals ranked first and fourth in the conference in rebounding, respectively, with 43.5 and 38 rebounds per game. There won’t be many second-chance points scored on Thursday. The under is 7-1 in the Cardinals’ last eight overall, 6-1 in their last seven against winning opponents, and 4-1 in their last five against opponents with winning percentages over .600. It is also 6-2 in the Tar Heels’ last eight overall, 6-1 in their last seven against winning opponents, and 9-4 in their last 13 at neutral sites. Additionally, the under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to stay under the total.