College Basketball Pick
Syracuse got a last-second three to beat Duke on Wednesday, but this is one of its most difficult Games of the season. And so far, the Orange have done nothing but disappoint in road Games, losing at Boston College and more recently to Pitt and Georgia Tech. If they can’t win those Games or even the one in Syracuse against Louisville, then how will this one turn out?
These teams played only a couple weeks ago and Louisville led for most of the way until Syracuse put together a late run that only led to a loss in overtime. Neither team played all that well with the outlying stat being Cuse’s 8-of-34 shooting from distance led by Andrew White, who was just 2-of-14. Beating a team like Louisville on the road will require the best scorer to shoot better than 20% from three. And to be in the range of an upset, the Orange can’t turn the ball over 15 times again, although that’s almost the norm for them.
But there’s still a reason for hope as Louisville hasn’t looked that dominant in recent home Games, barely beating Virginia Tech and Miami in recent outings. Another big difference in that first Game was Louisville’s 15 offensive rebounds, which happens to be the biggest area Syracuse struggles in due to its zone defense. With all signs pointing to that being the case again, the road for an upset looks small for the Orange.
Louisville is close to full strength, which doesn’t help Syracuse much. Quentin Snider is back in the lineup, averaging more than 30 minutes per Game and hitting a good percentage of his shots while also distributing. When you combine the scoring of Snider and Donovan Mitchell, the Cardinals can compete with most teams. But then you add the length of Deng Adel, Jaylen Johnson and Mangok Mathiang and you have one of the better teams in the country. The issues that came up for Syracuse in that first Game (rebounding, shooting) will likely come up again, especially on the road.
That said, just like in the last Game, there is a possibility for Syracuse to cover on the road. Andrew White may have struggled from distance, but still managed 22 points in the first meeting and Tyus Battle is better than the two points he scored. The Orange have the playmakers to keep this Game close, but the biggest thing will be getting more consistent production from John Gillon and Tyler Lydon, and neither have done that on the road this season. Gillon continues to have a turnover issue and going against Louisville’s press will bring that to light once again after he gave the ball away five times last meeting.
Louisville looks ready to make a run to the Final 4, while Syracuse is just hoping to make the Tournament. The Cardinals showed they were the better overall team in that first Game and the same will be the case at the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday.
Our Pick – Louisville by 14