Heading into the weekend, Louisville (9-2, 4-1) was tied with Virginia atop the ACC standings. Then they unexpectedly dropped one to Miami and now need to hold off a hard charging Florida State (7-2, 3-1) team to keep it from becoming a streak.
Louisville head coach Chris Mack is 0-3 against FSU in his short time as the head man of the Cardinals. There was one overtime game, and then last year’s losses were both blowouts. The primary reason is that FSU has been able to pick apart his pack line defense. But these are new teams, both of which have a chance to prove themselves.
The Cards offense is dominated by one player - senior transfer Carlik Jones (6-1, 185). Jones may be the most confident player FSU faces this year. He transferred from Radford and hasn’t missed a beat, easily showing why many sites called him the best transfer on the market. Though he can shoot, he mostly plays downhill, and FSU doesn’t have a player who can stay in front of him. He’s scored at least 18 points in six of his 10 games (he missed their loss to Wisconsin) and is averaging 18.0 ppg. He’s made 37% of his 3s, after knocking down 40% last year.
His running mate is sophomore guard David Johnson (6-5, 210). Johnson’s a future NBA player and would fit right in on the ‘Noles roster. After making just 22% of his 3s last year, he’s doubled that to 44% this year. He scores 12.9 per game.
The third double-figure scorer in redshirt freshman Jae’Lyn Withers (6-8, 230). He’s a freak athlete who may not be in Louisville for long. He’s had two double-doubles in his last three games, and is averaging 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.
The Cards have been without senior captain Malik Williams (6-11, 245), leaving them a bit undersized in the front court. 5* sophomore Samuell Williamson (6-7, 210) has been playing more minutes in his absence.
Overall, Louisville is a team that does a lot of things well, but nothing jumps out. They don’t take a ton of 3s. They can score at the rim but aren’t elite at getting to the line or on the offensive glass. They’re just a solid team.
Defensively, their pack line slows the game down, but FSU has easily scored more than a point per possession in each game vs Mack.
The game tips at 7 PM from the KFC YUM! Center, and will be broadcast on ESPN. The ‘Noles are 2.5-point underdogs.