Syracuse hosts Louisville on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. (TV: ACCN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record: 3-1
After starting the season 9-1 and 4-0 in conference, Louisville has lost three out of its last five, but is still fourth in conference and a game and a half out of first.
The Cardinals are led by guard Carlick Jones, who averages 17.4 points per game and is third in the ACC with 4.9 assists per game.
But outside of Jones, Louisville doesn’t move the ball well, and is the worst team in the ACC and 317th in the country in assists per game (11.5) while the Orange come in as the best (16.7).
In addition to Jones, the Orange will have to contain freshman forward Jae’Lyn Withers, who leads the Cardinals in rebounds (7.6) and is in the top five in the nation in field goal percentage (60.0%).
With Bourama Sidibe potentially back in action, Syracuse will get some well needed help on the defensive end.
Quincy Guerrier, who is the leading scorer (16.5) and rebounder (9.5) for the Orange, will be the key in this game. Guerrier has struggled a bit in the last two games, averaging just 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds as a result of the physicality of NC State and Virginia.
With Sidibe back, Guerrier should have a bounce back game against the Cardinals, leading Syracuse to a close 74-71 win.
Season Record 6-4
Louisville has not played well on the road this season, with three of its four losses coming on the road.
One of them, against current No. 19 Wisconsin is excusable, even if it was by an 85-48 margin. But the Cardinals looked flustered offensively in a 54-50 loss against Clemson on Jan. 27, and could not stop Miami guard Isaiah Wong as he scored 30 points in an update 78-72 win.
One thing to pay attention to is Louisville’s outside shooting. In the upset loss against the Hurricanes, the Cardinals shot 3-20 from beyond the arc. It was the same story against Clemson, with a 5-24 outing from distance.
Louisville as a team shoots 31.0 percent collectively from the season, which should allow the zone to collapse a little more inside. If Bourama Sidibe is in fact healthy, that will help out tremendously, allowing the wings to expand out even further on the 3-point line.
This game is essentially a coin flip, with the odds slightly favoring the Orange at home by 1-2 points depending on who you ask. And if you ask me, that sounds about right, as a late Quincy Guerrier rebound and stick back leads the Orange to its 11th win on the season with a 73-71 win over the Cardinals.