NCAA Basketball Picks for Louisville vs. Syracuse: Will Orange Pull the Upset at Home?

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 4:33 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 4:33 PM GMT

When Louisville faces the Syracuse Orange tonight, the NCAA Basketball odds makers set the total at 130 & are favoring the Cardinals on the road, with a point spread of 2.5.

Louisville (-2) vs. Syracuse 7:00 ET ESPN
Louisville visits Syracuse for a 7:00 pm ET tip on ESPN.  It is a matchup of teacher vs. student, as Louisville HC Pitino was an assistant to Syracuse HC Boeheim many years ago.  Each team has made a recent move, for financial reasons, to the ACC.  This year, Louisville is 8-4 SU in the league, while Syracuse is 7-5 SU in ACC play.  The fundamentals speak loudly in evaluating this pointspread winner.  Let’s examine them as part of tonight's NCAA Basketball Rivalry Night.

Under Pitino, Louisville has been one of the best road teams in the nation.  In 14 years, the Cards are 86-58 ATS away, including 4-2 SU in conference road games this year with all of those victories by 8 or more points.  Losses have come only at Virginia and N. Carolina.  Normally at this point in time, the Cards are ripping off a streak of SU and ATS victories.  True to form, they were on runs of 4-1 SU ATS entering their home game vs. NC State on Saturday.  Uncharacteristically, Louisville lost that game to the overachieving Wolfpack by a score of 74-65.  Though Louisville has covered twice against Pitt, following each of their previous 2 losses, this victory will not come as easily.

As legendary Syracuse HC Boeheim approaches his own 1,000th victory plateau, the Orange are struggling through a sub-standard season.  They are 16-9 SU, 8-13 ATS.  Since the beginning of Big East play, they are just 3-9 ATS.  The defection of PG Ennis from last year’s team has left Boeheim with a void in the offensive leadership role.  Recently, Syracuse announced a self-imposed post season ban.  Cynics responded by saying it was a convenient ploy, considering the Orange may not make the NCAA Tourney anyway.  Two things have remained unchanged, however, for Syracuse.  First is the strength of their Carrier Dome home court, where Syracuse has gone 54-7 SU in the previous 4 seasons.  Second is the fabled 2-3 zone defense of Boeheim teams.  It is that defense which will be the key to tonight’s victory.

Pitino has outwardly stated that the weakness of this year’s team is their lack of shooting ability.  The stats confirm that statement.  Syracuse averages just 43% from the field, 30% from the arc, 67% from the stripe and is handing out just 11.6 assists per game.  Expect them to struggle mightily with the Boeheim zone.  The stats bear this out & should influence your NCAA Basketball pick today.  Syracuse allows just 39% from the field, 31% from behind the 3 point arc.  With positives in rebound margin, assist/TO margin and TO margin, Syracuse is one of the best defensive teams in the country.  Combined with the strength of the Carrier Dome home court and the veteran coaching of Boeheim, look for the Orange to emerge with a victory tonight as underdogs in NCAA Basketball odds!

NCAA Basketball Picks: Syracuse at 5Dimes +2.5 -105

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