(12) Louisville at Syracuse
Time: 7 PM ET
Spread: LOU -3.5
Betting odds c/o Bovada
No. 12 ranked Louisville sits at 20-5 and is situated 4th in the ACC. The Cardinals will travel to Syracuse to face the Orange in a game that college basketball oddsmakers at Bovada are favoring Louisville by 3.5 points in college basketball betting lines. Syracuse is 7-5 in conference play, and will have a tough task stopping Montrezl Harrell and the Cards in this one.
Harrell is second on the Cardinals in scoring with 15.4 points per game and he’s also leading the team in rebounds, grabbing 9.3 caroms per game while also swatting over a shot per contest, as well. The 6’8” junior forward is expected to be a late lottery pick in the NBA draft, despite being considered undersized for the power forward spot in the NBA. He’s stepped it up from what was already an impressive sophomore season last year, and is seeing nearly four minutes per game, as well.
Most impressively, he’s kept his high motor and efficiency. While his field goal percentage has dipped a couple points, he’s now hitting free throws, reasonably well, at least. Harrell is knocking down 61 percent on 5.1 attempts per game, which makes his late game presence an attribute, not a weakness. As to whether he can thrive at the NBA level, it is difficult to ascertain, but that won’t mater tonight nor this March and the Cardinals should be in the thick of things as the NCAA tournament unfolds.
At the present though, this is a Cardinals team trying to recover. It has dropped two of its past three, including an 11-point loss to NC State on Saturday night (Feb 14). Losing to then- No. 3 Virginia a week prior wasn’t as bad, and it was sandwiched with a win over Pitt between the two ‘Ls.’
The Cards are a tough team on the glass and will need to make sure to punish Syracuse down low. Louisville ranks 15th in the nation in rebounding while the Orange are just 49th, and Syracuse’s offense has been anemic as well. The Orange are scoring under 70 points per game, though the ball movement has been surprisingly good despite the low scoring (see: 15.6 assists per game).
Syracuse stayed in it with No. 4 Duke Saturday night, but still lost 80-72 at home to the Blue Devils. Michael Gbinje had a monster game, hitting 10 of 14 from the floor for 27 points, six boards and four assists. Forward Tyler Roberson chipped in with a double-double, as well, also shooting well from the floor (8 of 14). Trevor Cooney may have made the difference in this one if he wasn’t missing most of his shots. Cooney found 10 good looks from three-point range but knocked down just three, while Gbinje had far better luck (5 of 8). The Orange still shot 36.4 percent from three, but it was entirely due to Gbinje’s efforts.
The 6’7” forward from Richmond is outclassing his sophomore season by leaps and bounds. Last year, he averaged just 14 minutes per game and shot 38 percent from the floor. This season he is a big minutes player (34.1 per game) and is hitting 50.7 percent from the floor and 43.5 percent from three-point range on 3.8 attempts per game. His foul shooting is wicked nasty, but he is mostly a shooter and doesn’t get to the stripe often (just three attempts per game). If he continues his torrid pace, the Orange may end up being a sleeper team in March. Besides that, the great equalizer in the NCAA tournament is program strength, something the Orange bring by all accounts.