Eighteenth-ranked North Carolina’s tough early ACC stretch continues with a visit from No. 5 Louisville, one of the nation’s top defensive teams. The Cardinals rank second in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency and are among the top 10 nationally in a number of other defensive categories, including effective field goal percentage defense and defensive turnover percentage.
Despite a 14-1 record that includes a pair of conference wins (the only loss is to Kentucky), Louisville has struggled at times, especially in league play. The Cardinals allowed 1.06 points per possession in a nine-point win at Wake Forest before scoring just 18 first-half points in a home victory against Clemson on Wednesday. UofL did come out of halftime and go on a 17-0 run in the first 6:33 of the second half against the Tigers, but the overall struggles could point to deeper issues.
Saturday will be Louisville’s second road game in seven days after playing just one true road game in the first six weeks of the season. The Cardinals’ best wins of the year have come against the Big Ten -- the season opener against Minnesota and December victories against Ohio State and Indiana. After Wake and Clemson provided an uncomfortable introduction to the ACC, back-to-back Saturday games against Carolina and Duke will serve as the Cardinals' full welcome to the league.