Two of the Big East’s best will battle on Saturday at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville. Both No. 1 Louisville (16-1) and No. 6 Syracuse (16-1) bring a perfect 4-0 conference record into the matchup.
Their records aren’t the only similarities. The Cardinals and Orange both play an active zone defense that is designed to generate deflections and turnovers. In addition, both have depth off the bench. Syracuse has 9 players that average 12.2 minutes per game or more. Louisville will rotate 9 players that average at least 13.6 minutes per game.
The Orange are led in scoring by senior Brandon Triche. He is averaging 14.1 points and also adds 3.6 assists. Syracuse rebounds by committee and C.J. Fair is the team’s top collector with 7.1 per game.
Michael Carter-Williams is the most complete player. Carter-Williams dishes out a NCAA best 9.4 assist per game. He also is ranked fourth in the NCAA in steals with 3.2 per game. What makes him complete is the fact he adds 11.9 points per contest. He will be a factor on both ends of the court.
Louisville’s scoring attack is led by Russ Smith and his 18.9 points per game. Gorqui Dieng is the top rebounder and pulls down 10.4 per outing. Dieng also contributes 9.2 points per game and is a shot blocking threat inside. Peyton Siva is ranked 29th in the NCAA with 5.6 assists per game to go along with 11.8 points.
UofL and Cuse have both played and beat South Florida (9-6) and Providence (9-8). Syracuse defeated USF 55-44, while UofL dominated 64-38. The Orange escaped Providence with a narrow 72-66 win. The Cardinals cruised past the Friars 80-62.
This will be the fifth time in six meetings where at least one of the teams are ranked in the Top 2. Louisville is currently on an 11 game winning streak and Syracuse brings 6 straight victories to town.
Tipoff is at 4:00 and will be televised on ESPN.
Prediction: UofL 73 Cuse 66