Syracuse is looking to win three ACC games in a row for the first time since last March. Then, the Orange beat North Carolina, Clemson, and NC State in early March to kick start their run to the tournament. This year’s squad is looking to do the same, and here’s how they get it done:
1. Don’t turn the ball over
The Orange only turned the ball over a combined 16 times over their last two games. An eight turnover per game average is manageable. In recent losses to Duke and Pittsburgh, SU had double-digit turnovers and combined with poor shooting, the game was not even close.
Specifically, Syracuse’s guards need to have more assists to turnovers, especially against a top-100 kenpom defense such as Louisville. Joe Girard III had more TO’s than assists against Florida State, Duke, and Pitt, and it was not an accident SU lost those games.
Handling ball pressure well, using screens from Jesse Edwards, and smart passes are key for Joe Girard to stay out of Jim Boeheim’s doghouse, and on the court. Syracuse must limit turnovers to keep Louisville out of transition to win the game.
2. Keep Jesse Edwards out of Foul Trouble
Syracuse’s starting center has been the most pleasant surprise of this season for the Orange, but his kryptonite has been fouling out. He’s done a better job in recent games, but early foul trouble in the first half against NC State plagued the Orange’s defense with Frank Anselem struggling.
The good news is that Anselem played his best game of the season in SU’s last home game if Edwards were to get put on the bench. But, the Dutchman was instrumental to Orange’s win over the Wolfpack, and even led the team in scoring.
Edwards’ impact on both the offensive and defensive end is paramount. Setting screens, having soft hands in the paint, and closing out on shooters in the corner have been his strengths this season. Against the size of Louisville in the paint, the junior will be needed to bring out his European physicality for the Orange to win.
3. All five starters need 12+ points
While this may have not been true against Wake Forest, Buddy Boeheim is not going nuclear for 30 points every game. That theory was proven against NC State, where all Orange starters scored 16 points or more. That is also unsustainable, as Cole Swider should not be expected to shoot 100% from three-point range, but 12 points is less than his season average.
Swider has been coming around at the right time, playing his best two-game over the Orange’s last two wins. Syracuse’s other starting forward, Jimmy Boeheim, has also been inconsistent, only scoring in double figures once in his last three games. SU needs 12 points out of Jimmy to win this game.
A balanced attack is the way for Syracuse to get back to .500, not relying overly on one person, and sharing the ball. SU is averaging 17 assists per game over its two-game winning streak, proving how sharing the ball works so well.
If the Orange can execute all three of these things, they have a very good shot at winning tomorrow’s game. Louisville is reeling, with four straight losses, and seven out of eight overall. Additionally, they lost their head coach a couple of weeks ago and suspended their team captain. It’s a game the Orange should win, and the home crowd will be behind them, as they look to get back over .500 for the season.