Syracuse travels to Kentucky to take on Louisville on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. (TV: ACCN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman gives his predictions below.
Season Record: 3-2
During his Hall of Fame career, Jim Boeheim has faced off against two fellow Hall of Fame Louisville coaches first Denny Crum, then his former assistant Rick Pitino. In a series that dates back to Boeheim’s playing days in 1964, his all-time record is 3-2 versus Crum-coached teams, and 5-12 against Pitino’s squads.
Since the Cardinals beautiful homecourt palace the KFC Yum! Center opened in 2010, the Orange are 3-5 against the ‘Ville, being drubbed there last season 90-66.
In this most unusual year with stops and starts due to issues related to the COVID pandemic, Louisville has not played since Feb. 1 beating Georgia Tech at home, and has also lost coach Chris Mack during that period due to a positive COVID test.
Mack was expected back at practice Tuesday and to be on the sideline to coach against Syracuse, but the Cardinals will be down two unnamed scholarship players and a walk-on who are still undergoing testing protocols.
In its last game against Ga. Tech, U of L guard David Johnson was on fire scoring a career-high 24 points, and big man Samuell Williamson came off the bench to score a career-best 20 and pull down 18 boards. Johnson’s backcourt mate Carlik Jones is also a crafty experienced player, who will challenge the Syracuse zone.
The Orange have to keep doing what they’ve been doing winning three of their last four; shoot well, create second chance opportunities, battle for rebounds, cut down the turnovers, and keep making foul shots.
Not knowing which players are sitting out, we think it will take the Cards into the second half to shake off the rust of their layoff, and during that time the ‘Cuse will build a consistent lead and hang on in the end to post a 78-74 victory over Louisville.