The Syracuse Orange host the Louisville Cardinals Saturday night. Here’s what to watch for.
- Teams: Syracuse Orange (11-11, 5-6 ACC) v. Louisville Cardinals (11-11, 5-7)
- Date: Saturday, Feb. 5
- Game Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
- Network: ESPN2
Fearless Prediction: Syracuse 85, Louisville 71
The Juice Online Season Record: 8-3 (ACC)
Louisville’s program is in the midst of turmoil right now, having recently fired their head coach Chris Mack, and has lost seven of their last eight games. On top of that, leading scorer Malik Williams was suspended for their last game- a heartbreaking overtime loss to UNC- and his status is up in the air for their trip to the Dome.
On the flip side, Syracuse is getting hot at the right time, having won their last two games to keep hope alive for a postseason push. Syracuse has played some of their best ball the last 2 weeks, with a surprisingly dominant 94-72 victory at home over Wake Forest and putting away NC State late, 89-82 this past Wednesday in Raleigh.
Even if Malik Williams plays he’s the only Cardinal averaging double digit points this season. Can this Louisville team muster enough offense amidst all their distractions to outscore a red-hot Cuse team at home?
The last game against the Wolfpack has been the best the offense has looked all year, on the whole. For one game, Buddy Boeheim didn’t need to be the team’s leading scorer as Cole Swider and Jesse Edwards stepped up in big ways to lead the team with 19 apiece, while Joe Girard III had 18.
That’s huge for Syracuse’s success going forward as the offense doesn’t have to run through Buddy alone. Buddy was named ACC Offensive Player of the Week against Wake Forest when he dropped 30, one point shy of his career high, but he has to love seeing the team not need to rely on his scoring output. Jesse Edwards was terrific in the paint going 8-of-9, and Girard III had a season high 10 assists.
Louisville sports a top 100 defensive efficiency ranking according to KenPom, coming in at 92nd in the nation, but with how well the offense is coming together, they should offer little resistance to the Orange’s stars.
The key for Syracuse will be finally showing off consistency in these performances, something that has eluded them particularly earlier in the year. There does seem to be a turn around in the level of play in these last few games though, and they still hold arguably the best home field advantage in the nation. I see the Orange rolling against a Louisville team that just won’t be able to keep up.