Preview: North Carolina A&T vs. Louisville

Preview: North Carolina A&T vs. Louisville

Louisville comes into the NCAA Tournament as the consensus favorite after winning 10 straight games by an average of 15.6 points. The Cardinals begin their quest for a third national title against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion North Carolina A&T in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Thursday at Lexington, Ky. Louisville reached the Final Four last season and came back with a deep, balanced group to win the Big East. The Cardinals lean of their defense, which has allowed an average of 58 points and 10.7 steals.

North Carolina A&T defeated Liberty 73-72 in Tuesday's first round for its first win in 10 NCAA games. The Aggies also rely on their defense, which has limited opponents to 38.3 percent shooting. North Carolina A&T has played two other Big East opponents, losing to Cincinnati by 54 and Seton Hall by 11.

TV: 6:50 p.m. ET, TBS

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA A&T (20-16): The Aggies shot the ball well (51.9 percent) and forced mistakes with its trapping defense at times against Liberty. They will need that to continue against the Cardinals to stay close. North Carolina A&T, which won their conference tournament as the seventh seed, is playing its best basketball at the right time with seven wins in its last eight contests. Adrian Powell and Lamont Middleton lead the team in scoring, while Jeremy Underwood and Bruce Beckford had big games in the first round. The Aggies are not a deep team, with only seven averaging more than 10:20 of playing time.

ABOUT LOUISVILLE (29-5): The Cardinals have been dominant since losing in five overtimes at Notre Dame on Feb. 9, winning by less than 12 only once since and allowing an average of 55.2 points. Louisville is led by one of the top backcourt duos in the country - Russ Smith and Peyton Siva. Smith averages 18.1 points and Siva 10 points, 5.9 assists and 2.2 steals. The Cardinals allow 38.8 percent shooting overall and were second behind Virginia Commonwealth nationally in steals. Louisville has talent inside as well, led by Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan. Dieng averages 10 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.


1. Louisville junior G/F Luke Hancock is 17-of-30 from 3-point range over the last eight games.

2. North Carolina A&T 6-8 senior F Austin Witter had the sixth-most blocks in the nation (105) during the regular season and had four against Liberty.

3. Louisville is making its 39th NCAA appearance with a 64-40 overall record, reaching nine Final Fours.

PREDICTION: Louisville 83, North Carolina A&T 58