In what might be the most important ACC women’s basketball game in the regular season, two teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll are set to battle tonight in historic Reynolds Coliseum.
After breaking into the top four of the AP poll for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, No. 4 N.C. State will host No. 9 Louisville. The game could not only have an impact on who claims the regular season ACC crown, but it could also affect seeding for the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Louisville was tabbed as a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament by the women’s basketball committee just last week, but then the Cardinals lost to Florida State and Syracuse. N.C. State, meanwhile, has lost just one game all season long, falling on the road to rival North Carolina.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight's top-10 clash in the ACC.
BRACKET: Predicting the NCAA women's basketball tournament field
- Tip-off: Thursday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET | LIVE STATS
- Where: Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina
- Watch: ACC Network
KEEP AN EYE ON: These three unranked teams could surprise in March
Louisville eliminated N.C. State last season in the semifinals of the ACC tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, winning 78-68 on March 9, 2019.
The Wolfpack got a great effort from Elissa Cunane, who had a stat line of 20 points and six rebounds, but Sam Fuehring had a double-double for the Cardinals and Asia Durr poured in 22 points.
N.C. State has lost five straight to Louisville and seven of its last eight. The two teams played against each other just twice before Louisville joined the ACC, but the Cardinals still hold the all-time advantage over the Wolfpack with seven wins to three losses.
IMPACT NEWCOMERS: These are the 5 women's basketball freshmen standing out
|9, 4||Rankings (AP, Coaches)||4, 7|
|21-3, 10-2||Record (Overall, ACC)||22-1, 11-1|
|59-51 loss at Syracuse||Last Game||71-59 win at Virginia Tech|
|Jeff Walz||Head Coach||Wes Moore|
|74||Points scored per-game||74|
|58.1||Points allowed per-game||54.9|
|Dana Evans (18.5)||Leading scorer (ppg)||Elissa Cunane (17.1)|
|Kylee Shook (7.7)||Leading rebounder (rpg)||Elissa Cunane (10.5)|
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ALL-TIME STARTING FIVE: UConn | Tennessee | Notre Dame
Players to Watch
N.C. State: Elissa Cunane, Sophomore, Center
Cunane is a double-double machine who has put herself in the conversation for the conference’s Player of the Year award. Cunane is a tough rebounder, a skilled defender and also has a soft touch around the rim. She’s fifth in the ACC in scoring, first in rebounding and eighth in blocks with per-game averages of 17.1 points, 10.5 boards and 1.2 blocks per-game. Cunane is also second in the ACC in field goal percentage (.577) and fifth in free throw percentage (.799).
The 6-foot-5 Summerfield, N.C. native has at least 17 points and seven rebounds in three of her last four games. Typically this season, if Cunane plays well, so does N.C. State. And because she’s so dominant in the paint, that seems to open things up for the Wolfpack’s three-point shooters outside. Five N.C. State players have hit at least 23 three-pointers this season, and four of them are shooting 37 percent or better from that range.
MEMORABLE: 11 numbers we’ll remember from the first half of the 2019-20 women’s basketball season
Louisville: Dana Evans, Junior, Guard
At one point in January, Evans was averaging 19.2 points per game, but her scoring numbers have dipped a bit recently and she has missed hitting that average in each of her last four games. Still, Evans is second in the ACC in scoring with a mark of 18.5 points per game now. She’s also eighth in the ACC in assists with 4.3 per game, and she leads the conference in shooting from behind the arc with a 41.7 percent mark. Evans is a sharpshooter from outside and a talented passer.
One of the reasons Louisville — and Evans — have been struggling recently is because they’ve been without sophomore Elizabeth Balogun, who was playing with the Nigerian national team in Olympic qualifying. But Balogun — who is averaging 8.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game — is set to return this week. If she plays well in her return, that could free up Evans to score big against N.C. State, too.
SABRINA IONESCU TRACKER: Where we left off with Oregon's triple-double record-breaker