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Louisville-Syracuse preview: Cards look to snap 4-game skid

The Cardinals and Orange are finally meeting for the first time in nearly two years.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 13 Women’s - Syracuse at Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (11-11, 5-7) at Syracuse Orange (11-11, 5-6)

Game Time: 2:00 p.m.

Location: Carrier Dome: Syracuse, N.Y.

Television: ESPN2

Announcers: Doug Sherman (play-by-play) and Chris Spatola (analyst)

Favorite: Syracuse by 7

Officials: Brian Dorsey, John Gaffney, Matt Potter

Series: Louisville leads, 19-10

Last Meeting: Louisville won, 90-66, on Feb. 19, 2020 in Louisville

Series History:

Possible Starting Lineups:


Relevant Videos:

About Syracuse:

One of the more talented offensive teams in the ACC, Syracuse enters Saturday’s game against Louisville riding a two-game winning streak in which they hung 94 points on Wake Forest and 89 on NC State.

The Orange are third in the ACC in three-point field goals made per game (8.7) and fourth in scoring (77.8 ppg). All five starters are averaging scoring in double figures, led by guard Buddy Boeheim, who is second in the ACC in scoring (19.3 ppg) and free-throw percentage (.894). He also leads the league in minutes played (37.8 per game).

The issue for Syracuse this season has been on the defensive end, where they rank a woeful 235th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. While players like Boeheim, his brother Jimmy Boeheim, and point guard Joe Girard are lethal scoring threats, they lack the combination of length and athleticism that has made the Jim Boeheim 2-3 zone so difficult for opponents to navigate for the last five decades.

The good news for the ‘Cuse is that Louisville hasn’t exactly lit it up against zone defenses so far this season.

The Cards have also struggled with perimeter defense throughout the season, which isn’t the best news when facing a Syracuse team that is shooting a collective 37.0 percent from beyond the arc (31st-best in the country).

Honestly, the book on this Syracuse team is pretty straightforward. They have four lethal outside shooters; you can’t let them kill you with clear looks from deep. They play a loose 2-3 zone on every possession; you’ve gotta get the ball into the hands of your best shooters in positions to score, and they’ve gotta knock down shots.

As always, talking about it is the simple part.


—The last three scheduled games between these two teams have been canceled on the day they were supposed to be played. The first of that trio was an ACC tournament quarterfinal that was supposed to be played on the evening of March 10, 2020. That was the day the remainder of the ACC tournament, and later the NCAA tournament, were both canceled. This will be the first meeting between the Cards and the ‘Cuse since the start of the pandemic.

—Louisville is in the midst of its first four-game losing streak since 2004. The Cardinals have not lost five consecutive games since the 2000-01 season.

—Syracuse is one of two teams in Division-I that has all five starters averaging double figures in scoring. St. Bonaventure is the other.

—Louisville has won six of its last nine games against Syracuse, but is 4-6 all-time against the Orange inside the Carrier Dome.

—Louisville has an all-time 15-10 record in games played on Feb. 5, winning four of the last five games played on that date.

—This will be Louisville’s ninth game this season under the direction of interim head coach Mike Pegues. The Cards are 5-3 under Pegues so far this season.

—Louisville’s 34 ACC road wins in its eighth year in the league is the fourth-most in the ACC in that period.

—Louisville has used 11 different starting lineups in 22 games so far this season.

—Louisville leading scorer and rebounder Malik Williams will remain suspended for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. Williams was also suspended for Tuesday night’s overtime loss to North Carolina.

—Louisville is 10-1 this season when shooting better from the field than the opposition, and 8-1 when shooting more free throws than its opponent.

—This is the first time a Louisville team has dropped at least 11 of its first 22 games since the Cardinals started 8-14 in Denny Crum’s final season of 2000-01.

—Louisville is 216-13 over the last 20 seasons and 13-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. That lone defeat came in Tuesday night’s 90-83 overtime loss to North Carolina.

—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better and 13-0 over the last three.

—Louisville is 34-4 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.

—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.

—Since 2004, Louisville is 130-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.

—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.

—Louisville has won 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina). The Cardinals have not been ranked this season.

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Syracuse 78, Louisville 70