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Louisville Looks For Payback Vs. NC State In Sweet 16
The first game in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in the East Region on Friday night is an All-ACC affair as No. 8 NC State faces No. 4 Louisville with the winner taking on either Michigan State or Oklahoma on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four. The Cardinals are 3-point favorites on Bovada.
Louisville (26-8) advanced with a 66-53 win over No. 5 Northern Iowa last weekend. Terry Rozier had 25 points and seven assists to lead the Cardinals, who are in the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year. Rozier scored or assisted on 65.2% (43-of-66) of Louisville's points against Northern Iowa, the highest by a player in this year's tournament. He was the first player in this year's tournament to be responsible for more than half of his team's points and win. Players were 0-of-8 until Rozier accomplished it.
Coach Rick Pitino's harassing defense that morphed from the 2-3 zone to man-to-man and back again made life rough on UNI's best player, Seth Tuttle, holding him to seven shots and 14 hard-earned points. The Cards forced 10 turnovers and held Northern's efficient offense to 39 percent shooting -- nine points below its average. Pitino's teams have now reached the Sweet Sixteen in 13 of his 20 previous NCAA Tournament appearances. He has a 13-3 record in his second game of the NCAA Tournament, including a 7-2 mark at Louisville.
NC State (22-13) wasn't supposed to be in this round but knocked off No. 1 seed Villanova 71-68. Trevor Lacey led the Wolfpack with 17 points and Cat Barber had 13, each coming with big buckets to hold off a late Villanova charge. The Wildcats saw a 16-game winning streak end and have not reached the second weekend since 2009.
In addition to beating Villanova on Saturday, NC State also beat Duke and North Carolina this season. The last time an ACC school beat Duke, North Carolina and a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, it went on to win the national championship (Maryland 2002). The last time NC State beat Duke, North Carolina and a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, it went on to win the national championship (1983).
The only time that Louisville and NC State met season, the Wolfpack secured a 74-65 victory at Louisville on Feb. 14. Chris Jones, who was dismissed shortly after that game, led the Cardinals with 20 points. Rozier and Montrezl Harrell combined to shoot 4-for-16 from the field. The Cardinals connected on just 57 percent of their free throw attempts. So even though Louisville has a higher seed than NC State,, the Wolfpack have proof that they can handle the Cardinals based on the previous success they had against a Louisville team that could use Jones’ quickness and defense to pressure NC State’s talented trio of Barber, Ralston Turner and Lacey. The good news for Louisville is that Harrell and Rozier probably won’t go 4-for-16 combined again.
Before this season, Louisville and NC State hadn’t faced each other in a game since 1988. The coaches at that time were Denny Crum and Jim Valvano.
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