Syracuse is on the road Wednesday to take on No. 18 Louisville in hopes of picking up its second road win against a ranked opponent this season, and the Orange will have its work cut out for it. Louisville is big and plays great defense (not to mention the Cardinals’ outstanding numbers on the boards). Here’s a look at what Rick Pitino’s squad is doing to win games.
The Cardinals are led by senior guards (sound familiar?) Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, who average 16.5 and 12.2 points per game, respectively. Louisville plays a team offense, and has eight players averaging at least 15 minutes and five points per game. Their 17.1-point average margin of victory is the best in the nation, and Ken Pomeroy has the Cardinals listed as the 10th best team in the country. Oh, and Rick Pitino has five players listed at 6-10 or taller on the roster, led by Chinanu Onuaku. Louisville’s numbers as a whole on offense aren’t great, but the offense isn’t what’s winning the Cardinals games.
Louisville’s defense is one of the best in the country. Pitino uses a combination of defensive strategies to confuse opponents, and his methods are paying dividends. Louisville has the third-best adjusted defensive efficiency in the country, according to KenPom, and the Cardinals lead the conference in turnovers and defensive field goal percentage. This may one of the few games this season where the Orange isn’t the best defense on the floor.
Wild Card: Rebounding
It seems like the wild card for every game is rebounding, but this time the emphasis is even greater because the Louisville Cardinals know how to work the boards. Louisville gets an offensive rebound on 38.8% of the shots it puts up, making the Cardinals one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country. Combine that with the 2-3 zone which is harder to box out on, and the Orange has its work cut out for it. Forcing a miss is only half the job in this game.
Louisville is almost undoubtedly the better team in this game, but if Syracuse can outplay Louisville on the defensive end of the ball and keep up the rebounding surge its been on of late, we could be looking at an upset in Kentucky Wednesday.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson