ACC Basketball

Louisville should be weary of the Wolfpack

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to wins and loses, the Louisville Cardinals are rolling. They’ve taken five of six, losing only to Virginia on the road…you know, a game they were not expected to win. However, their most recent 13-point win over Pittsburgh wasn’t all sunshine and roses. They needed a late 22-2 run to put away the Panthers at home, while starting guard Chris Jones was benched and Wayne Blackshear left with a hip pointer.

Hip pointer injuries are no fun and it’s not easy to just come back one game later. Even if Blackshear can play (and that’s up in the air), it’s doubtful he’ll be truly effective. This is big. While he’s not one-third of the Cardinals big three (Montrezl Harrell, Chris Jones and Terry Rozier), he is really the only other guy in this squad that can put up points.

If he can’t shoulder any of the scoring load, especially from deep, there is no one Rick Pitino can slide in to pick up the slack. No one. The remaining ten players who are not the big three or Blackshear have scored a total of 117 points in conference play, around 10 per contest. In Louisville’s last four, the big three have produced over 80% of the scoring load. Isn’t asking them to do more a little too much?

On the flip side, NC State has watched their season go south quickly. Actually, that’s a lie. They started the season 6-0 and it’s really been going down hill soon after. In fact, this team hasn’t won back-to-back games since beating Wake Forest and Charleston Southern back in early December. It’s amazing what one home win against Duke will do to mask all your problems. Anyhow, this team has now lost five of six and it’s no longer a secret that they are not very good.

Yet, they did go toe-to-toe with Virginia at home and nearly pulled it out. Overall, they’re an athletic team, with plenty of size, length and strength inside; the kind of interior that can give Louisville some trouble.

They got strong wings with Desmond Lee and Trevor Lacey, although I’ve been most impressed with sophomore Anthony Barber, who is starting to play like a guy who gets it on both ends of the floor. Although, Rick Pitino has a passive aggressive way of agreeing with me.

From the Courier-Journal

Barber is one of the best I’ve seen on film with drawing charges. He was that way in high school too. He’ll take two slides and it looks like a freight train hits him. He goes flying over when you barely touch him.

So you’re not saying he flops?

Anyhow, look for the Wolfpack to bounce back inside with Kyle Washington and Abdul-Malik Abu, who each got owned by the Cavaliers, while Lacey and Lee exploit Blackshear’s hip-pointer. Yep, it’s my upset of the week.


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