It’s been another difficult season for Louisville, but the Cardinals are trying to build real momentum after an upset of Miami. Kenny Payne’s group will face NC State on Saturday, with the Wolfpack a -295 road favorite on the moneyline and the over/under set at 146.5 points.
NC State vs. Louisville Prediction
This is a pretty ideal spot to take advantage of some value on NC State. The Wolfpack are coming off a blowout loss to North Carolina, while Louisville just picked up a surprise win over Miami. All indications from the last two seasons are that Louisville isn’t ready to sustain that kind of success, particularly with an NC State team that can at least say it’s on the outskirts of NCAA Tournament contention next on the schedule.
The Wolfpack take care of the ball as well as any team in the country, limiting turnovers and mistakes, and Louisville’s soft defense should allow them to at least somewhat overcome shooting woes that have hurt them at times this season. Look for sixth-year veteran D.J. Burns to go in and score some points against a Cardinals defense that has had an extremely tough time against shots inside the arc.
With double-digit home losses against Chattanooga, Arkansas State, and Pitt already this season, Louisville is a strong candidate for regression against a hungry NC State team after the win over Miami.
NC State vs. Louisville Prediction: NC State -7.5
NC State vs. Louisville Odds
NC State is a 7.5-point road favorite, entering at -300 on the moneyline. The over/under is 146.5 points.
Louisville improved its outlook with the win over Miami. The burning question entering Saturday is whether that was a sign of progress or just an opportunity to sell high on the Cardinals in this matchup with a tough NC State team.
NC State vs. Louisville Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could determine NC State vs. Louisville.
Louisville Defense vs. NC State’s Lack of Turnovers
The Wolfpack don’t excel in many areas, but they’ve been one of the best teams in the nation at limiting turnover. They’re averaging only 8.7 turnovers per game, fourth in the entire country, and opposing teams are committing less than five steals per game against NC State (20th-best mark in the nation).
Louisville’s defense is far from aggressive, forcing 11.8 turnovers per game in a mark that isn’t awful by any stretch but still ranks well below average. The Cardinals won the turnover battle against Miami, but it would be totally uncharacteristic for NC State to let that happen. That could be the difference in this game, and it’s one reason I have the Wolfpack covering the spread in my NC State vs. Louisville prediction.
Skyy Clark vs. Efficiency Troubles
It’s probably not a great sign when your leading scorer is shooting just 38.5% from the field. Louisville has handed the keys to sophomore transfer Skyy Clark, but his efficiency is lagging behind and hurting this Cardinals team. Clark is shooting just 33% over his last five games, a dip from his offensive production earlier in the season as ACC play proves to be an adjustment for him.
If Louisville is going to let him shoot as much as he does, Clark will need to show up against an NC State defense that ranks near the middle of the pack overall but has been below-average defending the three.
North Carolina Sports Betting Update
North Carolina sports betting is currently legal though not yet live. State legislators have stated that they hope to launch by March Madness, though no formal date has been set. Under the current structure of the bill, the latest that online operators could go live is June 14th. Were North Carolina to meet their March Madness goal, residents of the Tar Heel state would be able to bet on all NCAA tournament games in addition to the end of the Hornets and Hurricanes season via major sportsbook platforms such as BetMGM North Carolina and Caesars North Carolina. Both sportsbooks are expected to offer the same new user bonus they are offering in other states, which is a $1,500 first bet offer and a $1,000 first bet offer, respectively.
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