The Louisville Cardinals have taken over from the Syracuse Orange as this year's Self-Imposed Postseason Banned ACC Team. Still, they've got a season to play and they'll continue to do so tonight when they host the Orange in the Yum!
The Cardinals didn't do as Syracuse did and instead decided to ban themselves in a season when they're actually good. They're one of the best teams in the ACC with a 19-6 record and they're among the best scoring offense and scoring defense. They're very good.
The Orange aren't so shabby these days either, however. They've won eight of nine games and have moved up to a seventh-place tie in the ACC standings with their eyes on getting into the top four.
Can the Orange get a big road win and keep the momentum going? Or are they doomed to lose this one and regroup against lesser opponents? Let's see what everyone thinks.
Kevin Wall Louisville 68 - Syracuse 64
It will be interesting to see how Syracuse handles the pressure defense of the Cardinals, but I think ultimately turnovers are the difference. I expect this game to be a bit slow, and a bit ugly, and the Orange should have a chance at a key road win if they can execute on the offensive end.
Louisville 78 - Syracuse 71
Syracuse will continue to play good basketball but ultimately Louisville will be too much to overcome at home. I'd like to see Syracuse attack Onuaku to try and get him in foul trouble. He has struggled to stay in games this year and taking him out of the equation could really help Syracuse. Syracuse will have to force Lee and Lewis to take tough shots and Quentin Snider has come on nicely for them. In the end Louisville will win the battle on the glass and overcome a pesky Syracuse team. Side note: I also would like to see Syracuse utilize Howard, Gbinije and Cooney at the same time to get an additional ball handler in against Louisville's pressure.
Louisville 71 - Syracuse 66
Louisville has lost two straight games, and there's a chance that the team starts to struggle to get motivated after their recent self-imposed tournament ban. However, this game is always tough for Syracuse, and the Cardinals have some legit talent. The KFC Yum! Center won't make for an easy environment either. I expect this one to stay close throughout, but ultimately, UL's pressing style will give Syracuse's thin backcourt issues, and I think Pitino's team will edge out a close win.
Syracuse 71 - Louisville 66
Six weeks ago it would have been foolish to expect Syracuse to upset Louisville – well, neither of these two teams are in the same position they were six weeks ago. Syracuse has won eight of their last nine games, and are 14-3 under head coach Jim Boeheim this season (the Orange went 4-5 during Boeheim's nine-game suspension). Louisville, on the other hand, has gone 1-2 since announcing a self-imposed postseason ban as a result of the NCAA's ongoing investigation of a suspected recruitment scandal. With no ACC and NCAA tournament to play for, Louisville appears to have little motivation left and seems poised to suffer a third consecutive loss at the hands of a rejuvenated Syracuse squad Wednesday night.
Louisville 77 - Syracuse 75
I think that Louisville's full court press defense will give the Orange trouble and will wear on Michael Gbinije just like Miami's did. I think Frank Howard will have to step up and handle the ball well if the Orange expect to win, but I'm not sure they will be able to hang on to the ball enough to win. Whenever the Orange play at the Yum! its always tough to get a win. I think the Orange will play well, but come up just short. With the loss of Anas Mahmoud I think the Orange need to pound the glass if they want to come out with a win.
Louisville 76 - Syracuse 73
Oh I really wanted to give Syracuse the close win here. As well as they've been playing and as much as they've been able to find ways to win, this one feels like a bit too much to ask. We've won at Louisville before but not often and the Cardinals don't have much to play for other than pride right now. The Orange should be able to make this a game but I'm going to give Louisville the home-court advantage.
How about you...