#15 Louisville Cardinals (15-5) @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-11)

Louisville travels to North Carolina to square off against the struggling Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Danny Manning’s Demon Deacon team is the one of two ACC squads yet to reach 10 wins on the season (Miami (9-10) is the other vs Virginia Tech tonight).

Backing Louisville to continue their hot hand

The Cardinals were not expected to cause as much noise as they this season. A transition year and a new coach put the pieces in place to have a much slower rise back to the top of the college hoops world. However, Chris Mack has whipped this team into shape quickly and coached his team to 5 straight ACC wins and 6 of their last 7. Their lone blemish during that stretch was a 3-point loss at Pittsburgh in overtime. The fact Louisville has won each of those games by double-digits, including a 21-point shellacking at North Carolina, shows they’re not just getting by their opponents but dismantling them.

Led by Jordan Nwora (18.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG), Louisville is a very deep offensive team with 7 players averaging 6+ PPG. They make the most of their shot attempts and have the 5th most free throws made in the nation (25th best on attempts). They also take good care of the ball and are a solid rebounding team. However, their defensive prowess speaks for itself in helping the Cardinals on their current streak. They create turnovers, contest shots all over the floor effectively and control the boards on the defensive end.

Can Wake Forest find their footing tonight?

The Demon Deacons have had a very miserable season thus far currently in the midst of their second 3-game losing streak of ACC play. Wake Forest has struggled to find any consistency in the general play, especially on the offensive end. Even struggling teams, like Miami, Boston College and St. Joseph’s (PA), have managed to dispatch this team with general ease.  The difficult part to figure out is the presence of quality scoring options on the team, but a lack of execution once the games start.

Wake Forest is carried by veteran guard and school legacy Brandon Childress (16.1 PPG), freshman Jaylen Hoard (14.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG) and Chaundee Brown (10.5 PPG). Manning’s team has been good at controlling the defensive boards, but do little to contest nor prevent quality shots inside the 3-point line. With their roster Wake Forest has talent to cause a scare for teams, but have continually failed to put together a complete performance (exception being a win over NC State a few games ago).

Trends:

Louisville 5-1 ATS last 6 road games

Louisville 4-1 ATS last 5 overall

Louisville 4-1 ATS last 5 ACC games

Louisville 18-7-1 ATS vs teams with losing SU record

Wake Forest 2-5 ATS last 5 overall

Wake Forest 4-9 ATS last 13 home games

Wake Forest 7-20 ATS vs ACC

Wake Forest 7-19 ATS vs teams with winning SU record

Wake Forest 7-16 ATS vs teams with 0.600+ winning %

Home court not enough

Wake Forest’s win over NC State two weeks ago seems flukish to me, as the Wolfpack were one of two teams in Wake’s last 6 games to shoot under 41.5% from the field. The Demon Deacons have allowed 3 teams to shoot greater than 55.8% against them in their last 7 outings. Louisville should make that 4 tonight, as the Cardinals have shown they are ready for the big ACC stage. Louisville is a 9-pt road favorite, but the line size does not concern me here. Coach Mack’s squad has cruised to big victories over Georgia Tech (by 28) and North Carolina (by 21) in their last two road games. Give me the chalk.

Pick: 4* Louisville -9

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