No. 3 Louisville and No. 10 NC State tip off tonight at 7 p.m. (EST) at the KFC Yum! Center in what will be the first meeting between these two schools this season. The Cardinals (25-2, 12-2 in ACC) and Wolfpack (24-3, 11-3 in ACC) are second and third, respectively, in the ACC standings. Neither side can afford a loss if they hope to catch No. 4 Notre Dame for at least a share of the regular season conference title.
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Louisville’s projected starting lineup
G — Asia Durr (Sr.): 5-10; 20.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game
G — Arica Carter (RS-Sr.): 5-8; 8.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game
G — Jazmine Jones (Jr.): 6-0; 7.4 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game
F — Bionca Dunham (Jr.): 6-2; 7.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists per game
F — Sam Fuehring (Sr.): 6-3; 10.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game
NC State’s projected starting lineup
G — Kiara Leslie (Gs.): 6-0; 16 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3 assists per game
G — Aislinn Konig (Jr.): 5-9; 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4 assists per game
G — Kai Crutchfield (So.): 5-8; 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists per game
F — DD Rogers (Sr.): 6-1; 5.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists per game
C — Elissa Cunane (Fr.): 6-5; 13 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1 assist per game
When Louisville has the ball
Expect scoring and lots of it. The Cardinals are second in the ACC behind the Fighting Irish in scoring with 79.2 points per game. They shoot 47.3 percent from the field and 37.8 percent on 3s. Durr may average more than 10 points per game more than anyone else on the roster, but Louisville can boast of six other players who average at least 7.4 points per game.
It’s how Louisville was able to outpace No. 2 Connecticut, No. 17 Syracuse and others. And the wins against the Huskies and Orange both came at home, something that should bode well for a team that will face a defense that’s held opponents to 34.9 percent shooting from the field this season.
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The Cardinals aren’t glued to the offensive glass, but they do own the best turnover margin in the conference and are third in assists. Watch out if they’re able to get to the free-throw line consistently, too. It’s no wonder Louisville has an average scoring margin of 20 points per game.
When NC State has the ball
Expect Leslie to be the primary shot-taker but don’t sleep on Cunane or Konig. The Wolfpack lost guard Grace Hunter for the season in January to a torn ACL but the latter two players, as well as others, have stepped up in her place to keep the offense clicking to the tune of 72.2 points per game.
Konig and Leslie can both be threats on 3s. They’ve combined to shoot 40.3 percent from beyond the arc this season. And Cunane is one of the best in the conference and getting to the free-throw line. She’s had 143 attempts and hit 72.7 percent of them.
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The Wolfpack will need some help from their defense, though. In two of NC State’s three losses this season the team didn’t shoot poorly it just wasn’t able to stop its opponent from doing the same and doing it better. NC State’s defense has to crack the puzzle that is Louisville’s disciplined play and rack up as many points off turnovers and fast-break points as possible.