Gameday in Chapel Hill
Louisville women's basketball wraps up its post holiday road swing, with a visit to the land of baby-blue, Chapel Hill North Carolina.
The Cardinals carry the #12 and 13 rankings this week, while UNC holds onto #23 and 24. The disparity between the polls always reminds me of the old joke, "A man with one watch always knows what time it is. A man with two watches can never be sure." In any case, the Cards are favored coming into the game today.
The Tarheels are 13-5 overall, certainly a respectable record, and 5-1 so far in conference, managing to avoid much of the ACC chaos to this point. Out of conference loses included an unfortunate draw of South Carolina in the SEC/ACC Challenge, plus a matchup against always competitive (regardless of their injury report) UConn. More head scratching was their showing in the Gulf Coast Showcase. After eeking out a three point win over Vermont, they lost by seven to Kansas State, and by a single point to Florida Gulf Coast.
Their only in-conference loss is a eight point shortfall against Florida State, with wins over Notre Dame, Syracuse, Clemson, Virginia, and Georgia Tech. I feel like that probably all lines up to conclude that UNC is a good team, to be wary of (always the case in the ACC to be fair), but that aren't quite up to the top level standards of the conference this year. Close, but just not quite there.
Deja Kelly is the main name to look forward on the UNC squad. Scoring at over a 16 points per game pace, she has had several recent games where she has poured in more than 20, and she is a reasonable threat from just about anywhere, shooting 28+% from beyond the arc. Alyssa Ustby is the next scoring threat, coming in just under 13 points per game, but is not a threat from range. Lexi Denarski and Maria Gakdeng both score at about a 10 ppg clip. They are also the long and the short of the three point threat. Denarski hits them at about 36% and has the most on the team for the year, while Gakdeng hasn't even attempted a single shot beyond the arc. I guess if you know what your weaknesses are...
UNC has been on a bit of a road trip, not having played at Carmichael Arena since January 4th against Syracuse. They've got two wins under their belts since their loss to FSU, against Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Louisville has answered many of the questions that circled the team at the beginning of the season concerning having so many new faces, but they still have yet to put together a solid, complete 40 minute effort in a game. UNC might be a good opponent to bring that out in the Cards, not so weak as to invite UofL to "lower their guard", but not so powerful that a single mistake is going to wipe out the chances of winning.
ACC Network, linear has the video for this one, with Jenn Hildreth and Kelly Gramlich on the call. Hildreth and Gramlich are a pretty good team, but if you want the Louisville oriented call you can, as always, catch Nick Curran and program alumna Cortnee Walton on 93.9FM. Tip is at 2pm.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
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We had what amounts to a full call (these days) for the CCRHP yesterday. That is, of course, excusing Paulie's absence as he continues to recuperate. He has made an appearance back on group text chat, which is certainly one measure of progress for him, I suppose. Positive thoughts sent his way are certainly continued to be welcomed.
The subject matter was all basketball...well, other than our random diversions and the "Final Thoughts" segment...as we recapped a pair of Cardinal wins, and just generally had a grand ol' time.
Check it out at https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/cardinal-couple/episodes/Cards-Stay-on-Top-of-ACC-e2en2rn