LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's a showdown for first place in the ACC.
#7 Louisville at #8 North Carolina (23-5, 11-3 ACC) tonight at 9 p.m. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
After an 0-2 league start, the Cards are 10-4 in the ACC and 22-5 overall. "We're 22-5, we're going to step into North Carolina and play for first place and that to me is an amazing feat by these young men in that locker room," UofL head coach Rick Pitino said.
The UofL players are not just focused on first place in the ACC, they have their sights on even bigger goals.
"We're ready, it's that time of year. Every game is a big game," Ryan McMahon said. "We're fighting for a number one of number one seeds and we're going to do everything that we can to prepare for that."
That's right, the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament is a spoken goal in the Cards locker room, and why not? With a win tonight, they certainly could thrust themselves into the conversation for a #1 seed in the big tournament. Getting the #1 of #1's would probably require a run through their final four regular season games and winning the ACC Tournament next month in Brooklyn.
"We talk about a lot of things, but that's the goal," Jaylen Johnson added.
Mangok Mathiang is the most experienced of the Cards. He was a redshirt on the 2013 National Championship team, the last UofL squad to earn the top overall seed in the big tournament.
"There are a lot of teams out there talking about that," Mathiang said. "At tournament time you try to put yourself in the best position that you can and you go from there. We've been talking a lot about it and it's been our motivation."
A big step comes tonight in the Dean E. Smith Center where UofL is 0-2 all-time. North Carolina is 14-0 this season at home and 391-68 (85.2%) overall in the Smith Center.
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