Louisville Will Squeak By Struggling Syracuse on Big Monday

Doug Upstone

Monday, February 5, 2018 2:46 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 2:46 PM UTC

Syracuse got a firsthand look at Virginia's suffocating defense Saturday. Now they have just two days, which includes travel, to prepare for what should be angry birds -- the Louisville Cardinals kind.

Monday College Basketball: Syracuse vs. LouisvilleFree NCAAB Pick: Louisville -7Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Orange were peeled 59-44 by the Cavaliers at home Saturday, while Louisville was upset by Florida State 80-76 as three-point home favorites. Though the ACC is a rugged league, the losses are starting to mount for both teams. At this juncture there is an air of uncertainty about both teams and the direction they are headed with eight conference games remaining and the ACC tournament.

The college basketball odds board has the host Cardinals as seven-point favorites at the KFC Yum Center, which will start at 7:00 Eastern on ESPN for Big Monday.

Has Anyone Figured Out Syracuse Yet?

In breaking down the ACC this season, the discussion has been about the best teams in the conference, a brief point or two on what is wrong with the bottom feeders and nothing on Syracuse (15-8, 8-13 ATS). This might be the most nondescript Orange team in a long time.

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Defensively, the 'Cuse has their defensive identity back, ranking seventh in points allowed at 62.7 points a game and fourth in field-goal percentage permitted

On offense, this is where this group has no identity. Jim Boeheim's team scores only 68 points per game and connects on a mere 41.9 percent. This does not exactly send fear into opposing teams. Sophomore guard Tyus Battle (19.5 ppg) is the closest player that can be counted on regularly.

Louisville Lacking In Top-Tier Talent

With low expectations because of the Rick Pitino firing, when Louisville (16-7, 11-9-1 ATS) was sitting in second place a few weeks ago and interim coach David Padgett was receiving many plaudits. Since that time, the Cardinals have lost three of four and slipped in the standings.

The problem appears to be two-fold. First, the schedule has picked up and this is not your typical Louisville team, loaded with athleticism. Virginia is an issue for everyone, but setbacks to Miami and Florida State point to not being able to match quickness. This shows up on the defensive end where they have conceded 77.2 ppg in this four-game stretch, compared to 69.6 on the season.

Against Syracuse, this should not be as big of a problem.

Big Monday ACC Result

For your college basketball picks, the point spread appears dead on. This means we have to look elsewhere. Syracuse is 3-12 ATS in conference road games the last couple years and Louisville is 8-2 ATS in ACC action this year. For my money, that is just enough clearance to back the Cards, but the spread winner might not come until the final seconds.

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