Syracuse at #11 Louisville – Preview & Prediction 2/19/20
Spread: Louisville -9
6pm Central – KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
Syracuse Orange (14-11, 7-7)
We’ve got a pair of teams coming into this pivotal ACC matchup with 2-game losing streaks. Syracuse, however, has the better of the losing streaks (if that’s even possible) and is the only one of the two that doesn’t look totally lost right now. The Orange’s losing streak is comprised of a game against N.C. State in which their leading scorer, junior Elijah Hughes (18.9 PPG), managed only three minutes before leaving with an injury and an 80-77 loss at #8 Florida State. Hughes’ absence opened the door for a huge game from freshman guard Joseph Girard III, who has put up 30 and 22 points in the Orange’s last two, although he’s doing so largely through volume, as he’s put up a combined 44 shots in the pair of losses. For the Orange to pull off the upset, they’ll need a bit more balance, which includes getting production from sharpshooting sophomore wing Buddy Boeheim—who managed 0 points on Saturday at Florida State on 0-7 shooting (0-5 from deep)—and junior forward Marek Dolezaj (10.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG), who scored 8 points on only 5 shots against FSU. Syracuse will also need to shore up their defensive rebounding and protect the glass out of their 2-3 zone. While zone makes it tough to block out and Syracuse has historically struggled each season on the defensive glass, they simply can’t allow a recently struggling, but extremely dangerous, Louisville offense to get multiple shots off each time down the floor.
#11 Louisville Cardinals (21-5, 12-3)
Louisville is coming off their worst week of the season, as they dropped back-to-back road games at Georgia Tech and Clemson. While returning home should help, Syracuse may not be the team the Cards were hoping to match up with given how poorly they shot the ball in their losses last week. Louisville went 3-24 (12.5%) from three in their loss at Georgia Tech and followed that up with a 6-27 (22.2%) performance from downtown at Clemson. Those duds have dropped their team 3-point shooting percentage from 40.4% (#2 in the nation) to 38.3% (#11). The Orange’s zone, when properly attacked, is naturally susceptible to giving up threes. That has resulted in Syracuse’s opponents averaging 39.1% of their points from deep (the 9th highest percentage in the nation). Louisville is simply going to have to shoot better from deep to win tonight’s game.
If the Cards weren’t coming off horrific shooting performances, I’d say they match up very well against Syracuse. Junior wing Jordan Nwora is shooting 42.1% from downtown this season and senior guard Ryan McMahon (42.7% from 3) has likely had tonight’s game circled on his calendar for a long time, as the opportunity to go up against a zone as a sharpshooter is what he lives for on the court. Those two went a combined 4-25 from downtown against Georgia Tech and Clemson, though, with McMahon looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable throughout, even hoisting up an air ball on a clean look in crunch time against GT. They’ll need to break out of their funks tonight in order for Louisville to cover.
Louisville should benefit from a return home to the friendly confines of the KFC Yum! Center tonight, and I expect their shooting woes to end. That said, Syracuse is better than their record and has looked dangerous throughout the season. ‘Cuse has hit the over in all 7 road games they’ve played this season and is 6-1 ATS on the road. Louisville, meanwhile, is 7-7-1 ATS in true home games this year and has hit the over in 8 out of those 15 games.
Louisville shoots better tonight, helping both teams score in the mid-to-high 70s and keeping the Orange’s road over streak alive, but Syracuse hangs around to cover on the road once again. Take Syracuse +9 and OVER 146.0.