TV Schedule: Thursday, Dec. 7 (ESPN2)
Arena: PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.
Line: Louisville (-6)
Coming into the 2015-16 college basketball season, I had little faith in the Louisville Cardinals. They were going to be good – it is Louisville after all – but I assumed that they would flounder a bit with Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell off to the NBA.
I was wrong.
The Cardinals have just two losses on the season, both coming on the road against two Final Four favorites, the Michigan State Spartans and Kentucky Wildcats. Not only were both losses on the road, but they were both by less than four points each, proving that Louisville is a legitimate contender in both the ACC and the national picture.
At 10-4, a trip to the 2016 NCAA tournament is not out of the question for NC State. Unfortunately, their lone “good” win came against the LSU Tigers who were without veteran scorer Keith Hornsby at the time. A win against Louisville and maybe one more solid NCAA tournament team down the road could mean that all this team needs to get into the Big Dance is to avoid bad losses and to get over 20 wins.
That being said, I expect Louisville to win this one. Although the Cardinals’ offense has been superb, it is their defense that has been most impressive this season, allowing the second-fewest points per game at 57.4. Anthony “Cat” Barber might be one of the most underrated players in the country, but he will not be able to carry his team past Rick Pitino’s elite defense.
Prediction: Louisville 68, NC State 60