The weight this game holds for Syracuse has already been covered. Now it’s on to how SU can beat Louisville. Here’s how the Orange top the Cardinals, and achieve their first quad 1 win.
Do What the Zone Does Best
Louisville doesn’t shoot the three well. They barely take threes, and when they do, don’t bet on them going in. The Cards are 319th in 3-point attempts per game, and 263rd in 3-point percentage. If you’ve watched Syracuse basketball at all in the last 30 years you’ll know it’s tough to drive against the zone, and teams often kick out for three more times than not. That means this is the perfect matchup for the SU defense. A team that relies on driving to the basket and can’t shoot threes? Coach Boeheim should have a field day in planning to stop that offense. However, offense as a whole isn’t really this team’s strong suit. Louisville is 233rd in the nation in points per game.
Defense is this team’s bread and butter. The Cardinals allow just a shade higher than 64 points per game. That’s good enough for 46th in the nation in terms of points against per game. We all know what happens when the Orange take on a team that plays great defense. You get an outcome similar to that of their January 25th matchup with Virginia that ended 81-58 in favor of the Cavs. If Syracuse is to come out victorious in the KFC Yum! Center it’ll have to find a way to score consistently. That doesn’t mean feed one guy every time down the floor hoping he’ll catch his stride. These guys have got to manufacture offense each time down the floor, and they’ve got to get everyone involved. A dry spell on the offensive end is what will be SU’s demise if they drop this one.
Louisville Loves a Close One
If Syracuse wins this game it’ll be close, so expect to see the crunchtime lineup on the floor in the final minutes. Louisville loves to play teams close, they’ve done it plenty of times this season. The Cards have finished a game with a difference on 6 points or less, 6 times this year. Syracuse isn’t all the different, the Orange have done the same 5 times this year. If Boeheim’s squad finds itself with a chance to win the game late, the difference-maker will be that crunchtime lineup. Who will Boeheim have on the floor to make sure this team plays sound basketball until the very end.
A Syracuse win means a close game, if they lose it’ll be a similar score to that of the Virginia game, Clemson game, or Pittsburgh game. The keys are to force Louisville to shoot, find versatility on offense, and play through the very end of the game.