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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for versus #16 Louisville

Third straight AP top 25 matchup for the Orange.

Virginia Tech v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

For the third game in a row, the #21 Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (17-3, 7-2) will face off against another AP top 25 ACC opponent as we enter the final month of the 2023-2024 season. This time: it’s a battle for first place in the ACC standings.

The Orange are aiming for their first road win in 14 years versus the #16 Louisville Cardinals (18-3, 7-1) on Thursday night. Syracuse is coming off its first home loss this season to the #17 Virginia Tech Hokies and is looking to avoid back-to-back losses, something the Orange haven’t done all year up to this point.

The Cardinals, who sit first in the ACC as of Wednesday night, are 11-0 at home this season and are coming off double-digit wins versus Boston College and Pittsburgh. Louisville last year finished 26-13 overall (12-6 in the ACC) and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals currently project as a three-seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology update.

Tip-off between the Orange and Cardinals is set for 7 p.m. EST at the KFC Yum! Center. The game will be available for stream on the ACC Network+.

Here’s what to watch for:

  1. Get out fast off the block: Syracuse notably struggled out of the gate versus Virginia Tech, and while this is a team that has made some miraculous comebacks before throughout this season, that will be tougher to pull off versus Louisville on the road. The Orange only shot 3/13 from the field in the first quarter and trailed 23-9; from there, even with a slight run in the second, the Hokies ran away with it in the second half. Syracuse is going to have to keep things close and avoid that big-time deficit to have a legit chance.
  2. Lock in on offense: Syracuse’s offense faced one of its toughest opponents last time around, and the Hokies both stopped the Orange around the rim and on the perimeter. Syracuse shot 5/22 (23%) from three while Virginia Tech went 12/29 (41%), but the Orange were also outscored in the paint (Alyssa Latham and Kyra Wood combined for 8 points on 3/16 shooting in that game). Even if one of those two areas falters against a solid Louisville defense, the Cardinals offense is known to be electric and Syracuse can’t afford to lose both the perimeter and the paint.
  3. No freebies: Louisville forces the second-most turnovers per game in the ACC and plays like one of the better passing teams in the conference. Syracuse will likely still have the occasional transition opportunity, but it can only afford to hand Louisville so many fast break points. Ball movement and crashing the glass will be fundamental.

#21 Syracuse versus #16 Louisville preview by the numbers

All-time: Syracuse is 6-18 versus Louisville all-time since the 1986-1987 season, but the Orange have lost seven-straight games and 10 of their last 11 to the Cardinals. Syracuse notably last beat Louisville on the road in January 2010 and is just 1-10 all-time versus the Cardinals away from the Dome. The 2016 ACC Tournament marks the last time a ranked Orange team has a beaten a ranked Cardinals program.

Last matchup: The Orange last lost by 11 points, 79-67, to the Cardinals at home last season in January. Syracuse lost both of its two games versus Louisville last year by a combined 20 points.

Win/loss implications: Similar to what played out with Notre Dame earlier this season, a win would have that similar amount of magnitude — snapping an on-going losing streak and doing so in a tough road environment. A win also hands the Orange their fourth AP top 25 and Quad 1 win of the season, while a loss would mark the first time Syracuse has dropped back-to-back games this entire year.

#21 Syracuse vs. #16 Louisville Team Stats

Statistical Categories Syracuse Louisville
Statistical Categories Syracuse Louisville
PPG 77.6 79.5
Opponent PPG 64.2 59.4
Margin of Victory plus-13.4 plus-16.5
FG% 43% 47%
Defensive FG% 39% 42%
3FG% 32% 33%
Defensive 3FG% 31% 30%
FT% 74% 75%
RPG 43.6 36.6
APG 13.5 14.3
T/O 14.9 15.1
A/T ratio 0.9 0.9
SPG 9.8 9.6
BPG 4.9 1.8