Syracuse vs. Louisville Odds
|Moneyline||+155 / -190|
|Time | TV||6:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2|
|Odds as of Tuesday Night and via BetMGM.|
Syracuse and Louisville meet on Wednesday night in the KFC YUM! Center in a key ACC matchup. The two teams were supposed to play in Syracuse on Feb. 3, but that was cancelled the day of the game due to COVID-19 issues in the Louisville program.
The Cardinals haven’t played since and will be taking the court for the first time since a 74-58 win over Georgia Tech on Feb. 1. With a 6-3 ACC record, Louisville still has an outside shot at the regular-season ACC title. It can’t afford a home loss to the Orange, who will provide a tough test in their first game in more than two weeks.
Syracuse (12-6 overall, 6-5 ACC) still has slim at-large NCAA tournament hopes and is in desperate need of a quality win for its resume. The Orange lack a NET quad one victory but have a great chance to earn their first one here against the Cardinals.
When Syracuse has the ball
The Orange have had their ups and downs offensively but are posting solid numbers overall on the season. They currently rank 37th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.
One of the main reasons Jim Boeheim’s offense has been better is the plethora of shooters on the roster. Six of the Orange’s top-seven players are all comfortable taking 3-pointers. Their starting backcourt is very reliant on the 3-ball, with Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard and Alan Griffin all recording over 100 attempts from distance.
Griffin, an Illinois transfer in his first season with the program, has been a major bright spot for the Syracuse offense. He leads them in scoring (15.8 points) and has shot the ball really well from 3-point land (37%) and the free throw line (87.2%).
Forward Quincy Guerrier has had a breakout sophomore season and has been Syracuse’s most consistent scorer. He’s playing with much more aggressiveness this season, upping his scoring from 6.9 points per game as a freshman to 15.5 this season.
Boeheim and Girard live and die by the 3-point shot, but both have struggled with consistency this year. Boeheim is shooting just 31.1% from beyond the arc, while Girard has been a little better at 34%. When both are hot, the Orange are nearly impossible to defend. When both are cold, the Orange have a very difficult time winning. Needless to say, the shooting performance from Syracuse’s backcourt is a huge X-factor and immensely important to the team’s success on any given night.
Hitting jump shots will be a tall task against a stout Louisville defense. The Cardinals rank 29th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and guard the 3-point line very well. They’re allowing opponents to shoot just 30.9% from beyond the arc.
Another thing the Cardinals do very well is eliminate second-chance opportunities. They boast a top-40 rebounding margin, grabbing six more boards per game than their opponents. It will be a long night for the Syracuse offense if the 3-balls aren’t falling and it’s unable to generate second chances.
When Louisville has the ball
The Cardinals aren’t a very deep team and rely heavily on their starting backcourt.
The duo of Carlik Jones and David Johnson combines for 44% of the team’s scoring and 72% of its assists. Going up against Syracuse’s zone, Jones and Johnson’s shooting will be a major key to this game.
Johnson has been great from beyond the arc this season, sinking 42.6% of his 3-point attempts. Jones is the better overall scorer of the two (17.4 points per game) but has struggled from deep (31.1%).
The Cardinals will need some secondary scorers to emerge in order to beat the Orange, which is something they haven’t always gotten this season. Jae’Lyn Withers (10.1 points per game) and Samuel Williamson (9.6) are Louisville’s next-best scoring options, and getting big games from them is crucial to the Cardinals’ success.
Williamson in particular will play a critical role against the Orange. He has the size to play in the middle of the zone and is also a capable shooter, so the Cardinals may opt to place him on one of the wings. In Louisville’s win over Georgia Tech, Williamson played arguably the best game of his career, going off for 20 points and 18 rebounds. However, he averaged just seven points in the Cardinals prior four games, reaching double digits just once during that span.
Like Louisville, the Orange excel at defending the 3-point shot, allowing just 30.8% from beyond the arc on the season. This is bad news for a Cardinals team that’s connecting on just 31.9% of their tries from deep.
Knowing how much Louisville’s guards mean to their offense, expect the Orange zone to really extend and force the Cardinals to beat them in the paint. Syracuse reserve guard Kadary Richmond is a great athlete and has been terrific at the top of the zone, averaging a team-best two steals per game in just 21 minutes of action. I expect him to see more playing time against the Cardinals in order to make life difficult for Jones and Johnson.
Betting Analysis & Pick
It’s been a challenge trying to predict how teams will look coming back from long pauses this season. Many teams have struggled mightily out the gate, but a few have displayed no signs of rust (i.e. Florida State).
Given how inconsistent the Cardinals were offensively in ACC play before the pause, I think there’s a higher likelihood they come out flat against Syracuse’s patented zone. Throw in the fact that both teams defend the 3-point shot very well, and I believe the under is the way to go in this game.
Louisville’s slow pace (299th in adjusted tempo) and lack of consistency beyond their star guards also bodes well for the under. I think we’re in for a game played in the low-to-mid 60s and the total is set a few points too high here.
Pick: Under 140.5 (down to 139)