North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Louisville Cardinals Pick & Prediction JANUARY 17th 2024

No. 4 North Carolina is enjoying an impressive run, a stretch it will aim to continue against struggling Louisville on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

North Carolina has a six-game winning streak packed with strong performances.

“I like when the guys are having fun and they have smiles on their faces because they are enjoying something that they love and they’re doing it with teammates that they love,” Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis said. “If you can check those boxes, you’re going to have joy, and that’s what our team has.”

North Carolina (13-3, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) had plenty of that on Saturday during a 103-67 wipeout of visiting Syracuse. The result kept the Tar Heels alone atop the ACC standings.

There is no sign of letting up.

“These things go by quickly and I tried to tell them I would do anything to put that uniform on again, and so they have that chance and it’s special to put on that uniform and run through that tunnel and play on that floor in front of these fans,” Davis said.

The Tar Heels are 7-0 at home this season. The 5-0 ACC start is their best since they began 8-0 in 2015-16.

“We all have one goal and that’s just to win,” North Carolina forward Armando Bacot said. “I think in the past we have had different goals and aspirations. This team’s main goal is to win.”

Louisville (6-10, 1-4) would take any victory, though the Cardinals won in their most recent road outing, beating Miami 80-71 on Jan. 10. Then came an 89-83 home loss to North Carolina State on Saturday.

“Why did we lose? You have to defend,” Louisville coach Kenny Payne said. “If you don’t defend, you’re not winning. It’s that simple.”

Mike James paced the Cardinals with 20 points on Saturday.

“I feel like we’re taking strides as a team,” said James, who moved into the team’s top spot in scoring at 14.3 points per game. “We’re starting to play better offensively — sharing the ball and knocking down shots. We’re just competing, so we took some stuff we did well from the Miami game, but we just got to clean up some stuff on the defensive end from this game and just carry that over to UNC.”

The Tar Heels’ leading scorer, RJ Davis, has reached the 20-point mark in 10 games this season. He said it seems as if the offense is clicking in many areas.

“It’s amazing knowing that everyone is going to go out there and get a bucket,” RJ Davis said. “I think that is what is so dynamic about this team. Everyone is able to score double digits any given night. We share the basketball really well to the point where it could be anyone. That’s what is needed.”

The Tar Heels are rolling on defense, too. They collected a season-high 13 steals in the Syracuse game. North Carolina also had a plus-23 rebounding advantage.

The Wednesday game will feature North Carolina reserve forward Jae’Lyn Withers going against his former team. He started in 64 of 81 games for Louisville the past three seasons.

–Field Level Media

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