Syracuse faces a critical home game, hosting No. 18 Louisville at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
JIM STECHSCHULTE (Season Record: 3-0): A lot has been made of No. 18 Louisville blowing second half leads of 10 points at Florida State and 23 points against Duke in the last couple weeks. The Cardinals may have exorcised that late-game demon Saturday, almost coughing up a seven-point lead with 17 seconds left against Clemson, but blocking a lay-up in the final seconds to preserve a one-point home victory.
While Louisville may have been saving their psyches, Syracuse was off for a week, resting and working toward a bounce back after a lousy performance at N.C. State. A return home should help the Orange, as the Carrier Dome should be fired up for a big game.
Syracuse will need to force turnovers against the Cardinals, who are a little shaky at times with the ball. Louisville had eight miscues when FSU was making their comeback and nine against Duke. It certainly seems that the Orange will have their opportunities.
Unfortunately, SU just does not have enough offensive firepower to have consistent success against the Cards’ tough defense and will not be able to get them in a bad enough spot to shake their confidence.
It will be a tight one, but SU just doesn’t have enough firepower. The Orange fall to Louisville, 67-65.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 7-4): Going off what Jim says above, here’s two key stats that will play huge factors in Wednesday evening’s contest.
The first: The Cardinals are a perfect 6-0 in ACC play when they surrender less than 15 points off turnovers.
The second: Syracuse is equally a perfect 7-0 in the ACC when it holds opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field.
The ability of first year Louisville head coach Chris Mack to devise an effective game plan to attack the zone will dictate the outcome of this game. If the Cardinals struggle early and turn the ball over, the opportunistic Orange will have a strong shot at a resume building Quad 1 win.
The more likely scenario is that the Cardinals will stymie the SU offense and find just enough opportunities in threading the zone to send the Orange to a 64-59 loss.