After avoiding what would’ve been their first set of consecutive losses this season with their comeback win over Miami, Louisville travels to the Carrier Dome to take on old Big East rival Syracuse tonight at 7pm on ESPN.
Last year, Syracuse endured a suspension for Jim Boeheim, made the tournament on the bubble, and to top it all off, went to the Final Four against all odds. Many pieces are missing from that Final Four team, so many people expected Syracuse to take a step back this year. While they did at the beginning, and they’re still not where they want to be, the Orange have wins over Florida State and Virginia and sit at 8-5 in ACC play. They aren’t world beaters or favorites for the tournament (if they make it), but the Orange certainly have statements they need to make to impress the tournament committee, a win against the top-10 Cards tonight would do just that.
Syracuse is led by senior guard Andrew White III with 17.7 PPG, sophomore forward Tyler Lydon anchors the frontcourt load with 13.3 PPG and 7.8 RPG, while senior guard John Gillion facilitates the offense with 5.3 APG (ranks 4th in the ACC). Syracuse is a solid offensive team at 76.7 PPG compared to Louisville’s 77.2 PPG. However, their defense isn’t all that great (70.0 PPGA compared to Louisville’s 62.8 PPGA). Jim Boeheim’s tenure at Syracuse has been the era of the unbeatable, long, athletic 2-3 zone, but this team isn’t as defensively efficient as past teams under Boeheim.
While this is a rivalry game and these games are more unpredictable than others, I don’t see Louisville having trouble tonight. This season, when Louisville has gone up against a team whose focus is offense, Louisville has had the upper hand. Tonight will be no different. Q will continue to settle in, Deng and Mangok will build on their comeback performances, and Donovan will continue to shine tonight.
Louisville 81-Syracuse 68.