--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Jared Anderson
The Louisville Cardinals are back up to No. 2, and looking for another top-25 win on Thursday.
15th-ranked Syracuse comes to the KFC Yum! Center at 7pm. The 17-4 Orange are 2-2 in ranked matchups, and 6-2 in the ACC. The Cardinals defeated the Orange 84-77 on February 4th, 2018 at the Carrier Dome a year ago.
In that game, Asia Durr shelled the Orange with a 27-point night, and hit five three-pointers. Sam Fuehring was two rebounds away from a double-double.
Syracuse had three players score more than 10 in that game. Digna Strautmane led the team with 22, Tiana Mangakahia had 20, and Miranda Drummond 12. All three players are on the current roster, and are three of the top four scorers.
About the Orange
Syracuse has a 14.2 point scoring margin against opponents. They score 78 points per game, and allow nearly 64. They’re 22nd nationally in offense. The Orange win on rebounding, forced turnovers, and quick transition.
They aren’t a good shooting team. Syracuse is just okay- hitting 42.8 percent; which is good for 69th in the NCAA. Their best shooter is Mangakahia, who hits 44.9 percent of shots. Syracuse is even worse from beyond the arc- 139th in the nation, after hitting 32 percent.
64 points per game is not bad defensively. The Orange manage to grab 42 rebounds per game, and force nearly 20 turnovers a game. Syracuse tries to win by scooping up the ball as much as possible, regardless if the possession ends with a score. It’s not a bad strategy.
If you have the ball more times than not, some points should be on the board.
Louisville head coach Jeff Walz has spoken time and again about rebounding. Louisville’s 37.6 is 181st in the nation. The Cardinals should expect
Louisville has one loss this year. To Notre Dame. After NC State’s loss to North Carolina, the Cardinals are tied for first for the regular-season ACC title. The Cardinals can’t afford a loss here.
For starters, Louisville would drop to 7-2 in the ACC; look up at two teams, and be eye-level with four more. The top of the ACC is a jumbled mess. The Cardinals cannot afford many losses to make a high seed in the tournament.
And Louisville has two more ranked games left. They face off against Miami on Sunday the 17th, and against the NC State Wolfpack on the 28th.
While Syracuse may scoop up a ton of rebounds, Louisville will make the most of the times they have the ball. The Cardinals won easily last year at the Carrier Dome, which is a tougher place to play than the friendly confines of the Yum.
Syracuse’s record against ranked teams are about to go to 2-3.
My prediction: Louisville 86, Syracuse 60