The Syracuse Orange host the Louisville Cardinals as the two teams renew their rivalry. It's the first time the two teams will play since 2013 and the first time as ACC rivals. So, who wins? Let's find out...
Louisville 75 - Syracuse 67
The Orange had a lot of trouble containing Jahlil Okafor on Saturday, so look for big man Montrezl Harrell to have a big night against the Orange. The last time these two met in the last Big East Championship game, the then-freshman put his name on the map with a monster 20 point, seven rebound game. That was before he was one of the country's prime big men. Losing Chris Jones will hurt the Cardinals, but we all know Pitino has Boeheim's number and the Cardinals are just better than the Orange. I think Syracuse will hang around for most of the game, but the Cardinals win.
Syracuse 73 - Louisville 68
The suspension of Chris Jones is a big loss to Louisville. The Cardinals like the Orange are not a deep team and the two guys who will replace Jones (Anton Gill and Quentin Snider) are a combined 11 for 58 from 3 this season. Of course we know that Syracuse Orange fans should expect one of the two to have a career night tonight, but I don't think it will matter tonight. I expect Rakeem Christmas to rebound from his last game and along with Michael Gbinije, they will carry Syracuse to a win over a ranked opponent.
Syracuse 71 - Louisville 67
It might be a bit naive of me, but I can't help but believe that Syracuse is going to win one or two of these games during this ridiculous stretch. The team has played well enough that it seems bound to finish off a game or two, and a lot of these ACC powers are starting to slow down as we really hit the grind portion of the season. Louisville is without one of its three best players in Chris Jones, and does not have the guard depth that it has in previous years when Pitino's team has given Syracuse so much trouble. Montrezl Harrell is still a freak athlete, but he's been a bit disappointing this year, in my opinion. Terry Rozier has been the most impressive breakout star this side of Rakeem Christmas, but Louisville doesn't have a gunner who should be able to drop bombs over the top of the zone (knock on wood). On paper, Louisville should take this one, but screw paper. SU is going to make some noise down the stretch, might as well start tonight.
Syracuse 75 - Louisville 70
Aside from the Pitt game this Saturday, tonight's game might be Syracuse's best chance to get another win this season. Even though they've lost four of six, the Orange have been playing some of their best basketball recently. Had Rakeem Christmas not turned in his worst performance of the season, they probably would've come out on top against Duke this past Saturday. Christmas has to be itching to get back on the court, and given the season he's had, he should bounce back nicely. Combine that with the way Michael Gbinije has been playing, and the Orange should have a good opportunity to knock off the Chris Jones-less Cardinals.
Louisville 71 - Syracuse 69
This one has the feel of a low-scoring, tough-to-watch, rock fight. Jones' suspension is no doubt a plus for Syracuse, especially given the up-and-down play of Kaleb Joseph. In fact, tonight could come down to how well Joseph handles the Cardinals' pressure. I think, given Louisville's lack of bench and lack of scorers, SU will keep it close throughout. But ultimately, beating a top-twenty-five team a few days after battling Duke is probably too tall a task for this Orange outfit.
Louisville 68 - Syracuse 62
It's just too hard to say Syracuse should win a game like this anymore. They could, but, they almost certainly won't. They'll look good for a half, maybe longer than that, but eventually things will even out and the Cardinals should come away with the victory. More than anything, I just want to see what this team looks like firing n all cylinders once. Give me a night when Rakeem Christmas is scoring, Michael Gbinije is taking over and Trevor Cooney is shooting the lights out. Just once. If it's tonight, all the better. But...you know...
How about you?