Syracuse will play Louisville in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament (9:00 p.m. ET / ESPN) on Thursday. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record 5-3
In their only regular season meeting, Louisville routed Syracuse 90-66. Part of the collapse resulted from both Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe fouling out in that game after scoring a combined five points.
Louisville has stumbled a bit to end the season, winning only three out of their last seven games. The Cardinals are still one of the top teams in the country and one of the best defensive teams in the conference.
The key for the Orange will be to limit fouls and turnovers. That is easier said than done against a team as well rounded as Louisville.
The Cardinals are the best 3-point shooting team in the league and are lead by junior forward Jordan Nwora (18.0 ppg) who finished second to Hughes in points per game in the conference. The Orange will struggle to score against Louisville, but the key will be to allow Dolezaj and Sidibe to get enough touches to open up the outside shot for Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard III and Elijah Hughes.
The Orange will put up a valiant effort but the Cardinals are too talented on both ends of the court to lose this one, sending SU home with an 82-76 loss.
» Related: Syracuse routs North Carolina to keep its slim NCAA hopes alive
Season Record 18-5
In the 2020 calendar year, Syracuse has only lost twice by 10 points or more—a 13-point home loss to North Carolina and an embarrassing 90-66 road loss to Louisville.
As you know, Syracuse avenged their loss to the Tar Heels on Wednesday night, routing UNC, 81-53, in what was their worst ACC Tournament loss in school history.
So the revenge tour continues at 9 p.m. on Thursday against the 15th-ranked Cardinals. The rout was by far SU’s worst loss of the season, as they shot 38 percent from the field, 7-26 from downtown and was -9 on rebounds. Louisville, meanwhile, had no issues with the zone, shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 10-24 from 3.
Of note in that game, Bourama Sidibe could only muster 2 points and 5 rebounds in 11 minutes before fouling out. That older version of Sidibe seems to be a thing of the past, as he’s been in double figures in rebounding the last six consecutive games, a feat not achieved by anyone since Rick Jackson in the 2010-11 season.
KenPom rates Louisville as his No. 9 overall team, with an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 12 and defense of 30. They have struggled a bit recently, losing to ACC powerhouses Florida State (in an ugly 82-67 game) and a road loss to No. 22 Virginia in a typical 57-54 defensive slugfest.
The Orange played perhaps the best game of their season against North Carolina on Wednesday, and I think that carries into Thursday night. The game will be significantly more competitive than the teams’ first meeting, but I still see Louisville’s depth and talent edging past Syracuse 81-75.
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