Uncasville, Conn. -- Mohegan Sun Arena
Sunday, 1 p.m.
ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale)
"They're really, really good. They present challenges for you in every area. They play extremely hard. They defend like crazy. They can score. They come at you. It's a big-time team. Rick Pitino is one of the great coaches in our game – high school, college, pro, it makes no difference. He's got some very good players that do what he asks them to do. That's a recipe for success." – UNC head coach Roy Williams
Season to Date: No. 3 Louisville enters Sunday's Hall of Fame Tip-Off final with a 5-0 record. The Cardinals' average margin of victory through those five games is 29.4 points per game. Louisville's 71-57 win over Fairfield on Saturday represented its closest contest this season.
Smith Leading the Cards: Senior guard Russ Smith has continued his strong play after leading Louisville to the national championship last season, averaging a team-high 17.0 points on 44.3 percent shooting in just 25.2 minutes per game. He's one of three returning standouts from the title team, along with Chane Behanan (see below) and Luke Hancock (9.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg).
Hot Hand from Deep: While Louisville is shooting just 33.3 percent from 3-point range (34-of-102), junior wing Wayne Blackshear has provided a steady shot from beyond in the arc in connecting on 45.5 percent (10-of-22) of his attempts.
Stat Crunch: Louisville is shooting 47.3 percent from the floor while holding its opponents to 38.0 percent. The Cardinals possess a staggering plus-13.4 turnover margin and a plus-6.8 rebounding edge.
Behanan Back: On Oct. 17, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino announced that Chane Behanan had been indefinitely suspended and was no longer a part of the program, indicating that it was possible, but not probable that the junior would return. Less than a month later, however, Behanan returned to solidify the Cardinals' frontcourt. The American Athletic Conference preseason first-team selection is averaging 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game off the bench.
Winning Streak Growing: Louisville is in the midst of a 21-game winning streak dating back to last season.
Last Meeting: No. 1 seed North Carolina defeated third-seeded Louisville, 83-73, in the NCAA Tournament's East Regional final in Charlotte, N.C. on Mar. 29, 2008. Tyler Hansbrough scored 10 straight points for the Tar Heels after the Cardinals tied the game at 59-all with 10:21 to play. The National Player of the Year scored 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, including 20 points and nine rebounds in the second half. UNC shot 53.4 percent from the floor.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with Louisville, 8-3. Two of those victories occurred in NCAA Tournament Elite Eight contests ('97, ‘08).
3 Chris Jones (5-10, 175, Jr.) - 13.4 ppg, 3.6 apg
2 Russ Smith (6-0, 165, Sr.) - 17.0 ppg, 3.8 apg
20 Wayne Blackshear (6-5, 230, Jr.) - 11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
24 Montrezl Harrell (6-8, 235, So.) - 14.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg
44 Stephen Van Treese (6-9, 245, Sr.) - 3.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg
11 Luke Hancock (6-6, 200, Sr.) - 9.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg
21 Chane Behanan (6-6, 250, Jr.) - 9.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
0 Terry Rozier (6-1, 170, Fr.) - 4.0 ppg, 1.8 apg
12 Mangok Mathiang (6-10, 200, Fr.) - 3.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
(Photos from USA Today Sports)