NC State Wolfpack vs. Louisville Cardinals Pick & Prediction MARCH 12th 2024

Louisville has been troubled for most of the season, and North Carolina State isn’t looking all that good either going into the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

The teams meet in the first round Tuesday in Washington.

No. 10 seed NC State (17-14) has dropped four games in a row.

“There’s 10 teams in our situation that you know has to win the tournament to go (to the NCAA Tournament),” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. “That’s unfortunate for our league and we’re one of those groups. But it doesn’t matter what your record is now, everybody’s 0-0 and you got to figure out how to survive in advance.”

NC State could be without scoring leader DJ Horne, who left Saturday’s 81-73 loss at Pitt with a lower-body injury in the first half. The guard averages 16.8 points per game after posting just three points in the regular-season finale.

“I really won’t know until game time when I can really test to see if I can move at full speed,” Horne told reporters Monday.

The Wolfpack received a boost in the Pitt game by guard Jayden Taylor’s career-best 28 points.

Last-place Louisville (8-23), which holds the No. 15 seed, is carrying a seven-game losing streak after a 67-61 home loss to Boston College on Saturday.

“We have to play with a different fire,” Louisville coach Kenny Payne said. “We have to play with a different purpose.”

The Cardinals rank last in the ACC in defense by allowing 78.6 points per game. On offense, Louisville has connected on a league-low 29.8 percent of its 3-point attempts.

“I know it’s hard when you lose a bunch of games,” Payne said. “… I know that we’re capable. I believe that we can go in there (to the tournament) and make a lot of noise. We have to be right mentally.”

The Wolfpack beat Louisville 89-83 for a Jan. 13 road victory, with Horne pouring in 27 points. Mike James had 20 points for the Cardinals in that game.

NC State might need other forms of offense in the rematch. Center DJ Burns Jr. had a season-high 27-point outing last week against Duke, but he was limited by Pitt’s double teams.

“So we started using him as a screener and I thought he did a good job getting guys open,” Keatts said.

Tuesday’s winner advances to Wednesday night’s second-round game vs. seventh-seeded Syracuse.

–Field Level Media

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