Big East Showdown: Syracuse Orange at Louisville Cardinals

#2 Syracuse Orange at #18 Louisville Cardinals
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, Kentucky
Monday, February 13, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Syracuse -2
Current Line: Syracuse -3
Opening Total: 137
Current Total: 139
Opening Money Line: Syracuse -155 / Louisville +135
Current Money Line: Syracuse -160 / Louisville +140

Syracuse UConn Big East Tournament Preview
Kris Joseph and the Syracuse Orange take on the Louisville Cardinals Monday night. The Orange are slight favorites on the road.

Although it is Valentine’s Day eve, there is no love lost between the Syracuse Orange and Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals have beaten the Orange 7 straight times, a fact that gets under the skin of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, as Louisville coach Rick Pitino was a former assistant under Boeheim in the early 80’s. The two coaches have a friendly rivalry but it is still a rivalry.

Syracuse is 25-1 overall and 12-1 in the Big East. The Orange are #2 in both polls and have a 2 game lead over Marquette in the conference standings. The orange have won 5 straight games including an 85-67 win at home against UConn Saturday. Louisville is #18 with a 20-5 overall record and 8-4 in conference. The Cardinals are tied with South Florida for 5th in the conference 3.5 games behind Syracuse. Louisville has won 6 straight games, including 77-74 at West Virginia Saturday. Louisville leads the overall series 13-4 against Syracuse including 7-1 in Louisville. The Cardinals won the last meeting 73-69 last season in Louisville. The two schools will close out the regular season in Syracuse against each other early next month.

The only loss for Syracuse came at Notre Dame a few weeks ago. The Orange have wins over Manhattan, Virginia Tech, Stanford, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Marshall, George Washington, NC State, Tulane, Seton Hall, DePaul, Providence twice, Marquette, Villanova, Pitt, Cincinnati, West Virginia, St. John’s, and Georgetown.

Louisville has losses to Georgetown, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Providence, and Marquette. All except Providence are currently ranked in the top 25. The Cardinals have wins over Butler, Ohio, Long Beach St, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Charleston, Western Kentucky, St. John’s, DePaul, Pitt, Villanova, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Rutgers, and UConn.

Syracuse is outscoring opponents 78-61 this season. The Orange are shooting 48.1% from the field including 35.2% on 3 point shots. Syracuse is in the top 25 nationally in both scoring and field goal percentage. Syracuse makes 69.8% of their free throws. The Orange average 35.6 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of -0.4. Syracuse averages 16.8 assists, 10.7 turnovers, 9.8 steals, and 7.3 blocks a game. Orange opponents shoot 38.5% from the field, including 32% from 3 point range. Syracuse is #12 in opponents’ field goal percentage.  Syracuse forces 17.4 turnovers a game.

Syracuse forward Kris Joseph averages 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. He is the leading scorer for the Orange and is shooting 37.3% from 3 point range. Dion Waiters averages 12.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.1 steals a game to lead the team. He makes 34.2% of his three point shots. Brandon Triche averages 9.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. He is shooting 37.6% from 3 point range. Scoop Jardine averages 8.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists to lead the team, and 1.4 steals a game. C.J. Fair averages 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds. James Southerland averages 7.2 points, and 3.1 rebounds a game.   Fab Melo leads the team in rebounds with 5.5 and blocks with 3.1 a game. He missed 3 games due to being suspended for violating team rules including the Notre Dame loss, and narrow wins over West Virginia and Cincinnati.

Louisville is outscoring opponents 72-62 this season. The Cardinals are shooting 43.8% from the field including 32.8% from 3 point range. Louisville makes 68.6% of their free throws. The Cardinals average 39.1 rebounds and have a rebounding margin of  +2.9. Louisville averages 14.6 assists, 14.7 turnovers, 9.4 steals and 5 blocks a game. Cardinal opponents are shooting 37.2% from the field, including 32.8% from 3 point range. The Cardinals are 4th nationally in opponents’ field goal percentage. Louisville forces 15.9 turnovers a game.

The Cardinals have 5 players averaging double digits in scoring. Louisville guard/forward Kyle Kuric averages 13.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.3 steals a game.  He makes 36.3% of his 3 point attempts.  Wayne Blackshear played his first game of the season Saturday. Russ Smith averages 12.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 2.3 steals a game to lead the team. Chris Smith averages 10.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal a game. He is shooting 43.1% from 3 point range. Gorgui Dieng averages 10.1 points, 9.2 rebounds to lead the team, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 3.2 blocks a game to lead the team.  Chane Behanan averages 9.4 points, and 7.8 rebounds a game. Peyton Siva averages 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.8 steals a game. He leads the team in assists. Guard Mike Marra and forwards Rakeem Buckles & Stephen Van Treese are all out indefinitely or for the season with knee injuries.

Louisville is 13-8-1 ATS and the total is 12-10 this season. Syracuse is 16-9 ATS and the total is 11-13-1 this season. Louisville is 6-0-1 ATS in the last 7 meeting against Syracuse, and 5-0-1 in Louisville. The home team is 6-2-1 in this series recently and the favorite is 5-2-1. The over is 4-1-1 in the last six games played in Louisville in the series. The Orange are 4-1 ATS in Monday games, 20-7 in road games, and in road games against teams with winning home records, 20-7-1 as a road  favorite of 6.5 points or less, 34-16-1 as a road favorite, and 1-4 after a cover. The Cardinals are 6-0 overall, and in Big East games, 5-0 after a win and a cover, and against teams with winning records, 4-0 at home, 6-1 as an underdog, 5-1 in Monday games, 5-1 as an underdog of 6.5 points or less, 1-6 as a home underdog of 6.5 points or less, and 0-4-1 at home against teams with winning road records.

Syracuse has been playing a lot better since center Fab Melo returned. Louisville is also red hot and has has Syracuse’s number recently. I think Louisville needs this game a lot more, and has a great shot of pulling off the mild upset at home.

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