Syracuse Orange vs Louisville Cardinals
When: Saturday, Jan. 19, 4:00 p.m.
Where: KFC Yum Center
In Saturday’s only matchup of top 10 teams, Syracuse visits number one Louisville in the Big East showdown. Both teams are in a three way tie for first place with Marquette, in the conference. Syracuse and Louisville both average over 76 points per game, and they hold opponents to below 58 points per game.
Led by the dynamic backcourt of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, Louisville has jumped out to a (16-1) record. Smith leads the Cardinals in scoring at 18.9 points per game. The ultra quick combo guard leads Louisville in shots taken as well. Although Russ Smith is not a great three point shooter, he has the ability to get off a lot of shots in a hurry. Peyton Siva leads Louisville in assists and steals.
The battle of the guards displays a sharp contrast. Syracuse possesses big guards on the perimeter, and the Orange will look to use the size to their advantage. Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 12 points, five rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game. Brandon Triche leads the Orange in scoring at 14 points per game.
Coach Pitino has showed the acumen to carve up the Syracuse zone at times throughout his career. Louisville has won many of the games against Syracuse by using crisp ball movement and effective high post play. However, Syracuse won the last two meetings in the hotly contested series. Gorgui Dieng wasn’t able to make plays from the foul line area. Whether Louisville uses Dieng in the same position this year remains to be seen.
The Syracuse zone must force Dieng to handle the ball offensively, but their biggest key to victory will be rebounding. Louisville has active front court players, and Chane Behanan is an athletic forward that can carve out space. The Orange has to box out and be forceful on the defensive glass. Syracuse is a top 10 rebounding team, while Louisville is ranked 67. Still, the zone creates gaps for opposing players to attack.
Neither team has shot the ball tremendously well from long range, so they’ll have to provide balance on the offensive end. Both teams are playing well when they are pushing the tempo, and creating turnovers.
The loss of Syracuse forward, James Southerland will impact this game, yet he has capable replacements to fill in during his absence. CJ Fair has taken up more of the scoring load, and Jerami Grant needs to provide big minutes for Syracuse to pull the upset.
Louisville will use the full court trap to create a faster tempo against Syracuse, but they are going to force the Orange to take jump shots. The team that gets the most layups and dunks should win this game. In similar fashion, Syracuse will use the zone defense to force Louisville to attempt jump shots.
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