College Basketball Odds, Expert Picks for Louisville vs. NC State (Thursday, Dec. 22)
Pictured: Terquavion Smith #0 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
- Louisville heads to Raleigh looking to make a statement early in ACC play.
- The Wolfpack are clearly the better side, but can they cover such a big number?
- Alex Hinton looks at the odds and offers up his pick below.
Louisville vs. NC State Odds
The Kenny Payne era got off to a rough start as Louisville lost its first nine games. Louisville was a home underdog to Western Kentucky, but beat the Hilltoppers 94-83 for its first victory.
That sparked a brief two-game win streak before Louisville lost to Lipscomb 75-67 on Tuesday. The Cardinals will have to quickly put that loss behind them as they head to Raleigh to battle NC State on Thursday night.
NC State is 10-3 and comes into this matchup on a two-game winning streak. It beat Vanderbilt 70-66 on Saturday night in Chicago, but is off to an 0-2 start in ACC play.
Louisville leads the all-time series 14-11 and has won six of the past nine meetings. NC State won the last meeting 79-63 and is again favored by double digits.
Louisville’s numbers aren’t pretty this season. The Cardinals are 351st in points per game, 355th in offensive rating and 312th in adjusted offensive efficiency. They are also 330th in effective field goal percentage, 333rd in two-point field goal percentage and 275th in three-point field goal percentage. A lot of these numbers are tied to a lack of sufficient guard depth.
El Ellis carries much of the load and plays nearly 35 minutes a night. He is the Cardinals only double-digit scorer at 17.3 points per game. He is averaging 22.3 points and 7.7 assists over his past three games and is the only Louisville player averaging more than one assist per game. However, he is shooting just 38% from the field and averages 4.9 turnovers per game. Louisville is 351st in turnover percentage and 264th in steals percentage.
The Cardinals also don’t force many turnovers and 223rd in turnover percentage and 317th in steals percentage.
Louisville is 174th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 165th in defending the three-point line. However, opponents are having plenty of success taking Louisville inside the arc. Louisville is 312th in two-point field goal percentage defense.
Opponents have had success attacking Louisville early in the shot clock. Its defensive possessions average 16.6 seconds, 46th-shortest in the country. The Cardinals responded by trying to slow the game down offensively. Louisville’s possessions average 17.8 seconds, 222nd in the nation.
The Wolfpack are led by one of the nation’s top guard tandems in Terquavion Smiith and Jarkel Joiner. They are the ACC’s top guard scoring tandem with Smith averaging 18.2 points and 5.5 assists, while Joiner averages 16.6 points and 3.4 assists.
Guard Casey Morsell is averaging 13.4 points and shooting 46.6% from behind the arc on 5.6 attempts per game. Forward D.J. Burns is averaging 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in limited minutes to best perserve his stamina.
NC State ranks 37th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 54th in two-point field goal percentage. The Wolfpack protect the ball well, averaging just 11.5 turnovers per game. They also rank 28th in turnover percentage. However, they are disruptive on the other end.
NC State is 32nd nationally and first in the ACC with 9.5 steals per game. Smith and guard Jack Clark average over two steals per game while Joiner and Morsell average 1.3 per game. The Wolfpack also lead the ACC in turnovers forced per game. However, they were only able to force 10 turnovers per game in their first two ACC losses.
Louisville vs. NC State Betting Pick
Louisville’s wins are over Western Kentucky and Florida A&M. Just when it looked like the Cardinals were building some momentum, they lost to Lipscomb. This line is big, but for good reason. Louisville is 0-6 against high-competition this season with an average margin of defeat of 25.1 points.
NC State will have the edge on the glass and should also have more points in the paint. This is also a game in which NC State should force a lot of turnovers. NC State is first in the ACC turnover margin, while Louisville is last. Those extra possessions can turn into easy transition baskets.
NC State is second in the ACC in scoring (81 PPG) and has scored 70 or more in 12 of 13 games. Louisville has scored 70 points in just two of its 12 games this season. This one has all the makings of another long night for Louisville.
Pick: NC State -16