The Louisville Cardinals will look to bounce back from their 2-game losing streak as Syracuse comes to town for a Wednesday night matchup at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville dropped to 21-5 overall last week and 12-3 in the ACC. Syracuse enters the game at 14-11 and 7-7.
— Chris Mack (@CoachChrisMack) February 19, 2020
Louisville leads the all time series 18-10. Syracuse has won two straight over Louisville, including a 69-49 victory at the Carrier Dome last February. Syracuse, like Louisville, enters Wednesday night on a losing streak. The Orange have lost four of its past five.
Elijah Hughes leads Syracuse and all ACC players in scoring. The 6-6 junior comes in averaging 18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Buddy Boehiem averages 15.6 points per game while shooting over 39 percent from three-point range and making 3.5 shots a night from deep. Freshman guard Joseph Girard III scores 13.0 points per game with 3.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
There is a big discrepancy between the Orange’s offensive and defensive team ratings. Offensively, Syracuse does not do anything great, but they’re solid all around. They protect the ball, shoot a lot of threes, and execute around the rim. Syracuse is the 11th tallest team in the nation with an average height just over 6-foot-6.
Syracuse still plays that frustrating zone defense, forcing opponents into long possessions and low percentage shots. Opponents get 39.1 percent of their points against Syracuse from the three-point line, that’s the 9th highest percentage against any defense in the nation. They protect the rim and get steals at a high rate, but the opportunity for second chance points is going to be there frequently.
In its two losses last week, Louisville shot a combined 9-51 from three-point range. In the most recent loss at Clemson, it was a 6-27 mark from downtown with many of those coming during garbage time. There were plenty of things wrong with Louisville’s performances last week, but ultimately they were not hitting shots. Syracuse is going to force you to shoot and make jumpers if you want to beat them.
Regarding the lineup, it would be pretty shocking to see Jordan Nwora benched again on Wednesday. He got punished for his lackluster performance against Georgia Tech and followed with a similar one on Saturday coming off the bench. That being said, Louisville needs its best player out there on the floor. We already know Chris Mack is going to ride with some variation of the same nine guys out there. There’s no need to discuss the lineup anymore until Mack proves that he is going to do something dramatically different.
It feels a bit strange calling this game on Wednesday a must win; Louisville is clearly going to be in the NCAA Tournament field and will almost assuredly still be a top-4 team in the ACC when the season ends next month. For the sake of this team’s long term success moving forward into March, a loss here would be deflating to say the least; not to mention the damage it would do to Louisville’s already frail resume. This is the Cards’ first game back at home since getting over that hump and beating Virginia. The past two games were not fun to watch at all, but good teams lose all the time on the road in conference play. It’s up to the Cards to come out Wednesday and take care of business like they had for the five weeks prior to this two game skid.
The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN.
Louisville 79 Syracuse 70