Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
Louisville 28 (No. 4 Big East)
Syracuse 1 (No. 1 Big East)
Line: Syracuse -11 (O/U 131½)
Louisville Players to Watch: G Peyton Siva, 6-0 Jr. (8.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 1.7 spg); G Kyle Kuric, 6-4 Sr. (13.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 spg); F Chane Behanan, 6-6 Fr. (9.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 49.3% FG). Kuric led Louisville with 16 points on his Senior Night – a 56-51 loss to South Florida. Kuric – along with classmates Chris Smith and Jared Swopshire – have gone 98-37 as Cardinals heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale.
Syracuse Players to Watch: F Kris Joseph, 6-7 Sr. (14.2 ppg, 5 rpg, 1.4 spg); G Scoop Jardine, 6-2 Sr. (8.9 ppg, 5 apg, 1.5 spg); C Fab Melo, 7-0 So. (7.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.1 bpg). Joseph – along with teammates Dion Waiters – was named one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Award for the country’s most outstanding player. With 1,406 career points, Joseph ranks 27th in SU’s all-time scoring list.
Storylines: Both teams are pretty set as far as where they’ll finish in the Big East standings and what they’ll be seeded in the conference tournament. However, while Syracuse appears to be a lock for a No. 1 seed, Louisville could significantly improve its resume and its NCAA seeding by becoming the first team to win in Syracuse this season.
Keys: Syracuse leads the Big East in scoring (75.9), scoring margin (plus-15.3), field goal percentage (47.1), blocked shots (7.2), steals (9.9), turnover margin (plus-6.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5-to-1). However, the Orange do struggle in two areas: free throw percentage, where they shoot just 69.7 percent, and rebounding. Syracuse has been out-rebounded by its opponents this season, 1,088-1,065. Meanwhile, Louisville has a plus-2 advantage in rebounding per game. The Cardinals have won with defense. They lead the Big East and are fifth in the nation, allowing opponents to shoot just 37.8 percent from the field. Opponents also shoot just 31.9 percent from behind the 3-point line against Louisville. ‘Cuse is 18-0 at home this season, while the Cardinals are 6-4 away from home. However, the Cardinals have won four of their last five on the road.
The Bottom Line: Syracuse struggled to score in its visit to Louisville. That won’t happen this time. It will be a much higher scoring game than expected.
The Pick: Syracuse 79, Louisville 66