Some of the best Kentucky Basketball moments come against North Carolina. Either the Cats play their best games against the best opponents or they just really don’t like UNC. I like to think that both are true. So many great performances, but few stack up to a 103-100 win. And Malik Monk coming up just short of the all-time single game scoring record with 47 points made it that much sweeter. If only he could have dunked on Luke Maye.
Some of the best moments against UNC: – Tayshaun Prince 5 three’s to start the game capped off with the heat check of the century – John Wall’s performance against his home state – 2011 March Madness win to send UK to the Final Four – Anthony Davis’ game winning block – Ashton Hagans 9 steals – And this:
I’m no basketball coach. I’m just blogger living in my mom’s basement. But how do you leave the guy with 44 points wide open with the game on the line? That’s like not putting a hand in Austin Rivers face with 1 second left and a 2 point lead… which UNC also did.
The Cards and Tar Heels split their season series 1-1. The first game they played, Louisville absolutely bitch slapped them, 83-62, at UNC. The second game, the Tar Heels got their revenge in the KFC Yum! Center, 79-69. As much as I want to say that the Cards can win this game, I don’t see them beating this UNC team twice. North Carolina is playing really, really strong right now. They are peaking at this time of the year. They have won 7 in a row with two of those games against Duke. In that stretch the least amount of points they scored was 77 against Florida St. So, Louisville is really going to have to use their good defense to force North Carolina into tough shots.
If the Cards can force them to miss shots then they might have a chance, but their offense will have to be on too. If Jordan Nwora makes his shots and they limit their turnovers, which will be tough, their is a chance. However, I think that is too much to ask, and I don’t think that it will work completely for the Cards. It may be a close game, but I don’t see anything good about this game for the Cards.
Prediction: North Carolina 79 – 74 Louisville
Syracuse vs. Duke
When: 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Spread: Duke -11.5
Duke and Syracuse split their season series 1-1. The first game Duke lost in Overtime 95-91 at home, and the the second game Duke handled Syracuse pretty easily, 75-65 at Syracuse. With Zion Williamson coming back for the tournament, fully healthy, Duke has their X factor back. Zion is the biggest game changer. His absence is the sole reason for their slide at the end of the season. He didn’t play because he wanted to become fully healthy and that is what Duke is going to get, a healthy Zion. That is scary. Zion, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish are going to be firing on all cylinders. That offense is going to be on and it will not let up. Syracuse may have a decent defense, but I’m not sure. Duke is not Pittsburgh. Duke is a different animal. I think think that this will probably be Zion’s “hey, remember me” game. Duke is going to roll.
After a ROUGH February and early March for the Cards, in which they went through the gauntlet of schedule. The Cards went a terrible 3-7 with losses to Virginia twice, North Carolina, Duke, Florida St., Syracuse, and Boston College. Those last two should not have happened, and the losses to Duke, Florida St., and one of the losses to Virginia were absolute choke jobs. That being said, there is a lot to be very excited about as a Cards fan. The team has been, although losing, playing pretty well. While they seemed to struggle to finish games off, the team was starting games off really strong. Coach K actually said that UL was one of the most prepared teams they had played all year.
So, what does that mean about them going into the ACC Tournament?
Their first game is against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and if you follow us at Soft 7 Sports you know we hate Notre Dame! Just kidding. But not really. Notre Dame was one of the 3 teams Louisville had beaten during that season ending stretch. They won 75-61 at home. I honestly don’t think that this is going to much of a different game. I’ll be doing a full game breakdown tomorrow, but for now, I don’t see any reason why the Cards should struggle in this game.
So, I expect that the Cards would match up with the 2 seed North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Semifinals. The Cards and Tar Heels split their season series 1-1. The first game they played, Louisville absolutely bitch slapped them, 83-62, at UNC. The second game, the Tar Heels got their revenge in the KFC Yum! Center, 79-69. As much as I want to say that the Cards can win this game, I don’t see them winning against this UNC team. That North Carolina team is playing really, really strong right now. They are peaking at this time of the year. It may be a close game, but I don’t see anything good about this game for the Cards. It also helps that the ACC Tournament is in Charlotte, North Carolina. If we’re being honest, North Carolina might win the ACC Tournament this year.
So, I think the Louisville Cardinals will be bounced in the Semifinals of the ACC Tournament by the North Carolina Tar Heels. There is a prediction.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski expects Zion Williamson to sit out yet again this weekend for Duke’s rematch versus North Carolina. The last game that Zion played was in a blowout loss to the Tar Heels; of which, he only played the first 30 seconds.
I won’t get into the injury and his Nikes exploding. I am sure ESPN has beaten that to death. With Zion out, I actually have no idea what they are doing for content. Thankfully for them, they have college basketball’s best rivalry this weekend. And Duke is out for blood.
But here’s the thing: no Zion, no chance. It is no secret that Duke is driving the struggle bus at this point. They lost to Virginia Tech, but a one point win at home versus a 11-17 Wake Forest team (and celebrating after) somehow seems worse. I know, a win is a win, but it was just ugly. Now they have to play UNC this Saturday. A team that beat them by 16 points already.
RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish combined for 60 of their 72 points that game. Expect the exact same thing this weekend. Another thing to expect? Luke Maye to absolutely BODY the Duke bigs yet again. It is always hard to watch a guy that I can beat 1-on-1 succeed, but it gets infinitely better when it is against Duke. UNC will be up by 20 going into the final minute, then Jack White will hit his first two three’s of the game and make it a 14 point loss.
Also, apparently there is still no timetable for Zion’s return. Coach K told CBS Sports, “He’s getting more confidence, and we just have to get him in shape… I don’t think he’ll be ready for Saturday. I have to be careful not to push this, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t ready by the ACC tournament.” I am sure the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will take his absence into special consideration to make sure Duke still gets a 1 seed.
For the past month or so, I have been giving gambling advice for college basketball and that will continue tomorrow, but today I want to dive into my top 5. One of the perks of gambling is it forces you to watch a ton of basketball which I have done. These do not go by the rankings, but these are the top 5 teams to fear in March, with number 1 being the predicted winner. Let’s get started.
Currently sitting at 24-5, the Tar Heels lead the ACC along with Virginia. They score 87.1 points per game and could get hot down the stretch. Carolina has the perfect mix with their team. They have seniors (Cameron Johnson and Luke Maye) who lead the team in most categories, they have a star freshman, Coby White, who leads the team in assists, and lastly they have a Hall of Fame coach on the sidelines. North Carolina is a team that has been there, done that and they have clicked at the right time. I see North Carolina surging in March. They could be the team cutting down the nets, if and only if, their bigs get better. They have the shooting, the have the experience, so what they are missing is big play. Luke Maye is awesome. He averages a double double and knows how to hit big shots (Kentucky 2017 Elite 8). However, there have been games this year were the bigs just aren’t effective. Against Kentucky is a prime example where Maye played decent, but the physical play from Washington and Travis put Maye in a blender. If they want to cut down the nets, they need better play from Maye and Brooks. I think they can lock it up down the stretch and could cut the nets.
Currently sitting at 26-2 and ranked #2 with both losses coming against Duke, this Virginia team is poised to make a tournament run. For their program, they need it after last years embarrassing loss to #16 seed, the University of Maryland Baltimore College. Virginia is no different this year than they have been in previous years. They key on defense and struggle offensively from three point range which got them killed against UMBC. Behind Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter, their guard play is much improved; and between the two, they are sitting at 45% from three point range. As a team they are shooting around 40%, much improved for Virginia. But, in order for them to do well in March they need more consistency. Virginia can score 80 points one game and then 45 the next, winning both. But, in the tournament they’ll need consistency from their offense if they want to make it to the final weekend.
The current #1 team in the nation sits at 29-2 with their biggest win coming against Duke during the Maui Invitational. Gonzaga is a team that is here every year due to their easy schedule and weak conference. In fact, their biggest conference game was this past weekend at St. Mary’s which they won by 15. They have two losses on the season and it will inevitably rise to 3 in the second weekend of the tournament. They score 89.8 points per game, which makes them the highest scoring team in the NCAA. What scares me for the Zags is the fact that they will have to play real teams. They do not play Tennessee Tech anymore, instead they play teams like Tennessee and North Carolina and they actually are facing real competition. Gonzaga has to make it past the sweet 16 to prove they are legit. But they need to turn their 3-point shooting around which is their only weakness. They’ll get beat early on if they can’t knock down 3’s, but I think they can get hot and reach that final weekend. This will help legitimize their program by cutting the net.
Currently sitting on a 25-4 record, this Duke team has everything it could ever need… when Zion comes back. I think it is more of a when rather than an if, so when Zion comes back, this team is changed. Duke will be fine. They gain nothing from him playing right now, much like Kentucky with Reid Travis, so Coach K should continue to sit Zion until the ACC tournament starts. Once he returns, good luck everyone else. RJ has come into his own and can play with or without Zion, so you know no matter what he’ll knock down 20. Reddish is playing with more confidence in himself and will continue to knock down shots. For Duke, Zion coming back will be everything they need. He opens the floor and allows RJ and Cam to find more open spots. However, Zion is not Duke’s most important player… Tre Jones is. If Duke wants to win the title, Tre needs to be healthier than ever. The game he was out, they lost handily to Syracuse. They looked like lost puppies. I think Tre is their key player and if he plays well mixed with Zion returning… watch out…
Folks, the Cats are back. Currently sitting at 24-5, the Wildcats are in the driver’s seat. For Kentucky, everything is clicking at the right time. Ashton has begun to play better, as well as Nick Richards. They are the best rebounding team and have one of the best defenses in the nation. For Kentucky, they need to get Reid Travis back. Much like Zion for Duke, Reid changes every game that he is involved in. He is the bully underneath that allows PJ to run along the wing and make some threes. When Reid comes back in the next few games, Kentucky’s identity and their swagger will return. The key for Kentucky is consistency. Herro needs to knock down his open shots, same with Baker. Ashton needs to be the driver and play smart. His offense has been slacking recently as well as his defensive aggression. The X-Factor is PJ Washington. If PJ can play every game like that 6 game stretch (that ended Tuesday), this team will win it all. Kentucky can beat any team in the nation. They need to play their game. And if, IF, they are consistent from 3 and PJ is knocking them down, they will cut the nets down in April after getting their revenge on Duke.