At this point in the season, things don’t look great for the Orange. Two straight losses down the stretch have a decent shot at keeping them from reaching the big dance in March. The only chance they have at keeping tournament hopes alive is a win down in Kentucky tonight. Here’s what you need to know about the Cardinals.
Great Three-Point Shooting Team
This Louisville squad is great at scoring the basketball. Currently averaging 75 points per game, which plants them at 86th in the country, not too shabby for a team that only possesses one double-digit scorer. What this team is best at on the offensive side, though, are shots from distance. The Cardinals shot 38% from behind the arc, good for 11th in the country. Fans know that’s not a great sign for the Orange. For as long as anyone can remember, the 2-3 zone has been criticized for its lack of ability to guard shots from three, especially those shot from the corners. That criticism has only grown larger as basketball has progressed toward a brand in which three-pointers are crucial to any team’s success. If Louisville is able to take advantage of Syracuse from three, the Orange will have a hard time keeping up with a Cardinals squad that loves to score.
Arguably Syracuse’s greatest opposition this season has been rebounding. The bigs on this Orange squad simply aren’t good at corralling rebounds. Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj have given plenty of effort but simply don’t have the ability to compete with teams that have dominant, athletic bigs inside controlling the glass. SU’s last contest was a great example of this, 47-29 was the margin between Syracuse and Florida State last Saturday. The bad news for the Orange is that this Cardinals squad is 11th in the country in terms of board play. This team has a plethora of forwards and centers that excel at boxing out and grabbing misses, it’s a big reason wins continue to find this team. Louisville won’t have much of an issue putting this Orange squad away if it controls the glass.
This game is crucial for the Orange. That NC State loss really put a damper on things, and a loss to FSU just a couple days later didn’t help. Syracuse needs this big win to keep it’s season alive. It would be by far the best win on the Orange schedule and one that could carry them to the big dance. A win tonight, however, might not even be enough. Syracuse would also have to perform great in the ACC tournament. If this Orange team can’t win tonight and can’t make a run at the ACC championship, consider it all over.
Things look bleak for SU. Coming up against a team that is good at all the things Syracuse isn’t, doesn’t bode well. If the Orange think they can win, it’ll take great defense and a strong presence on the glass to keep their season alive.