One More Time: #10 Louisville At #12 Syracuse
- CoachingLouisville enters on a four-game win streak, with those victories by an average of 18 points. Rick Pitino’s team is still in the hunt for a Big East title. If this team plays to its strengths, as it has the last couple of weeks, it is very dangerous.Syracuse comes in having lost two in a row after Monday’s three-point loss to Marquette. They haven’t been playing that poorly, but there are certainly doubts about whether this team is capable of making a deep Tournament run.
- OffenseGorgui Deng went 10 of 11 and scored 23 points last Saturday against Seton Hall. Any offense he can give this team is a huge bonus considering three other players average double digits.Consistent scoring can be a problem for this team. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams doesn’t seem as dynamic as he did earlier in the season. The Orange struggle to put the orange in the bucket from deep.
- DefenseRanked as one of the top defensive teams in the country, Louisville forces turnovers at a very high rate. Not letting the Cards score is a great way to keep them out of their press.Syracuse gives up a lot of offensive rebounds, not uncommon for teams that play zone. But that’s the only major deficiency on an otherwise sound defensive unit. Syracuse leads the country in blocked shot percentage.
- Bench DepthWayne Blackshear has moved into the starting lineup in place of Luke Hancock, the George Mason transfer who shoots four three-pointers a game (and hits 34 percent)Jerami Grant starts games, but James Southerland finishes. Grant’s minutes have gone way down since Southerland has returned; he played just 17 total in the last two games. Baye Keita, a 6’10 center, has the ability to make a difference in the paint.
Louisville’s turnovers down the stretch cost them the first game against Syracuse, a 70-68 loss on Jan. 19 when the Cardinals were No. 1 in the nation. This should be another very competitive game, but Syracuse gets a slight edge at home. -Andrew Kahn, College Football Contributor