College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: North Carolina vs. Louisville (Tuesday, February 1)
Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Caleb Love (North Carolina)
- North Carolina travels to the KFC Yum! Center to take on the Louisville Cardinals.
- The Cardinals will be without their leading rebounder Malik Williams, who is suspended.
- Will the Tar Heels' offense overwhelm the Cardinals? Kody Malstrom breaks it down.
North Carolina vs. Louisville Odds
|North Carolina Odds|
-106o / -114u
-106o / -114u
It’s a tough ask to beat Duke after firing your head coach. However, Louisville still put up an impressive performance, making a push for the opening spread.
It might be a tougher ask this time around, as the Cardinals will now be without one of their best players in Malik Williams vs. North Carolina. It was announced Monday that he’s been suspended from the team for not adhering to Louisville standards.
While North Carolina is no Duke, it’s still one of the better teams in the ACC. When their shots fall, the Tar Heels have the offensive firepower to beat anyone.
After an offensive masterpiece last game out, UNC looks to continue its win streak and build back its case to win the ACC come March.
Will Louisville once again be able to overcome adversity? Or will UNC’s offense steamroll another opposing defense?
Let’s find out.
Thus far in the season, I will say I have been quite pleased with new head coach Hubert Davis. It’s never easy taking over a top-tier program, but he’s made do with what he was given.
After a two-game skid — due to poor defense and ice cold shooting — North Carolina has bounced back nicely with a winning streak.
Led by the dynamic duo of Armando Bacot and Caleb Love, the Heels will look to continue to find their offensive rhythm in this one.
Bacot has catapulted into one of the best players in the ACC and the leader of this team. The big man is averaging 16.3 points and 12.1 rebounds per game on 57.4% shooting.
Meanwhile, Caleb Love has been the perfect compliment to him, adding 15.3 points on 43.2% shooting from 3.
UNC (25th in AdjO) has been one of the most dynamic offenses in basketball when its shots fall. But when they don’t? Lordy it’s bad.
Why? Because the Heels get zero help from their defense, a unit ranks 74th in AdjD and has struggled to stop a nose bleed.
What’s even more intriguing is this team takes on two separate identities, home and away. When home, UNC is an astounding 12-0. When away, the Heels are 3-3. They’re also 0-3 on neutral courts.
If UNC wants to break this trend, it will need to attack the glass, especially with Louisville losing its top rebounder. Getting as many second chances as possible is critical, as any whiff of a cold shooting night can bury UNC in a hurry.
A new week and a new problem for Louisville.
As if parting ways with head coach Chris Mack and losing the locker room wasn’t bad enough, Louisville now goes into this game without Williams.
While Louisville is a very balanced unit, losing Williams hurts, as he was the team’s only double-digit scorer and hauled in 8.7 rebounds per game.
Louisville’s offense was already bad enough, ranking 182nd in AdjO and 12th in the ACC in points per game.
A big reason for the lack of offensive production is the Cardinals’ inability to make shots consistently. Louisville currently ranks 13th in FG%, shooting a measly 42% from the field and 32% from 3.
The Cards will benefit from more pure offensive possessions, as UNC has the fourth-worst defensive turnover percentage in the nation (13.2% per game).
This may be a tough task for Louisville to pull off as it simply does not have the offensive production to keep pace with UNC. If Louisville wants a punchers chance, it will need to rely on its defense to turn into offense.
While the defense is far superior to the Cards’ offense, I fear the unit still may not be good enough to get the job done.
Louisville (82nd in AdjD) relies more on disrupting open looks than causing turnovers. If they can disrupt UNC’s offense by generating bad looks and can capitalize on UNC’s poor defense, the Cardinals can make this game interesting.
North Carolina vs. Louisville Betting Pick
Just like when I faded UNC when it started to shoot cold, it’s time to ride UNC because the team is shooting well again.
The loss of Williams will be on full display, as UNC will gobble every rebound in sight. The Heels will generate second chance points consistently, setting far too much of a scoring pace for Louisville to be able to match.
This sets up nicely for Bacot to have a monstrous game, strengthening his campaign for ACC Player of the Year. Louisville will play small, garnering more open looks for Bacot down low.
Even if UNC shoots cold, I just don’t see Louisville’s offense being able to pull away. The Cardinals rank 182nd in AdjO and are losing a massive component on the glass.
Louisville will just have too much to overcome, so take UNC at anything less than -5.5.
Pick: UNC -3.5
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