Louisville takes on No. 3 North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday evening. The seventh-seeded Cardinals advanced with a win over Notre Dame on Wednesday evening while the Tar Heels, who are seeded second in the tournament, will be playing their first game after receiving a double-bye.
Jordan Nwora led Louisville by scoring 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting on Wednesday as the Cardinals cruised to a 75-53 win. Nwora, who was named the ACC's Most Improved Player after leading his team with 17.3 points and 7.7 rebounds, scored Louisville's first 12 points and also pulled down nine boards in helping the Cardinals run away from the Irish. 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 dominating 83-62 win in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Jan. 12, and North Carolina returned the favor with a 79-69 win in Louisville on Feb. 2.
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ABOUT LOUISVILLE (20-12): 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 on 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 50-38.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (26-5): 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 against Florida State). North Carolina's most recent win was a 79-70 win over the Blue Devils on Saturday where freshman guard Coby White scored a team-high 21 on 4-of-10 shooting while also notching three assists and three blocks. Senior Kenny Williams chipped in with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Tar Heels hit 12 from long range - three above their average of nine 3-pointers.
1. 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.
2. The Tar Heels and Cardinals ranked first and fourth in the conference in rebounding, respectively, with 43.5 and 38 rebounds per game.
3. Louisville attempted 66 field goals against Notre Dame after averaging 57.3 during the regular season.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 80, Louisville 77
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