With five losses in seven games, the Orange need a break. They need a chance to course correct and work out their many issues.
They will not receive any such break this weekend. Instead, they'll play a team they haven't beaten since 2006 and haven't beaten on the road since they joined the conference. F***in' Louisville.
The good news is that Louisville doesn't play in Freedom Hall anymore, so it's a bit of a fresh start for us. Then again, "fresh" might not be the best word to use when describing the KFC Yum! Center, considering one of Yum!'s brands is Taco Bell.
The No. 16 Cardinals come into the game with a record of 18-6, 7-4 in the conference. Like everyone else in the Big East, they have good wins and they have bad losses. Wins over UConn, Butler, Marquette and St. John's are offset by losses to Providence, Georgetown and DePaul.
Injuries have been the main story of the season for the Cards, to the point that it's impressive they're doing as well as they are.
Ten Cardinals have missed games because of injury this season. The list includes: Knowles, Dieng, Rakeem Buckles (concussion, broken left finger), Terrence Jennings (hip pointer), Elisha Justice (concussion, bone bruise below right knee, left rib cage fracture), Mike Marra (sprained right ankle), Tim Henderson (concussion), Kyle Kuric (concussion), Russ Smith (broken right foot), and Jared Swopshire (left groin). Swopshire has missed the entire Louisville season after having surgery to repair the groin injury.
Two injured players, forward Rakeem Buckles (broken left index finger) and freshman center Gorgui Dieng, have been cleared for practice and will play against Cuse. Louisville got back their leading scorer Preston Knowles (14.8 points per game) on Wednesday, though they lost to Notre Dame.
In the short-term, the Orange need the win to get back on track and stop the bleeding that's ensued following the Georgetown loss. That win over UConn seems like a long time ago already and SU could use another notch in their belt to remind folks they're legit.
In the long-term, Syracuse needs to make this a rivalry again. Pitino and the Cardinals have owned the Orange since joining the conference. No current Syracuse player has ever beaten Louisville. A win here breaks the streak and re-establishes the Orange in this series.
Keep an eye on Card Chronicle for Louisville-related updates.