Two years ago Louisville & Syracuse met in the Big East Conference tournament championship game; Wednesday night they meet for the first time as ACC rivals. Here's our breakdown of this contest, and our free NCAAB pick.
Louisville Cardinals vs. Syracuse Orange Betting Odds
Most of the NCAA Basketball odds opened this game with Louisville favored by three points, the total offered at 130.5. In the early betting many books dropped the spread to -2.5, but bumped the total to 131.5.
Cardinals-Orange: Another New Rivalry
Louisville started 12-1 this season, with wins over Ohio State and Indiana, the only loss coming against still-unbeaten Kentucky. The Cardinals then began ACC play 7-2, the losses coming by one point at North Carolina and vs. Duke. But the 'Ville has lost two of its last three contests, following Saturday's 74-65 upset loss at home against North Carolina State.
The Cardinals, favored by 10 points, led Saturday's game by a point at halftime, but for the first time this season gave up a halftime lead and lost. For the game Louisville shot just 33 percent from the field.
Just before that the Cardinals beat Pitt at home 69-56, covering as 10-point favorites; just before that they lost at Virginia 52-47 but covered as seven-point underdogs.
At 20-5 overall, 8-4 in conference play Louisville is tied for fourth place in the ACC with North Carolina, 3.5 games behind first-place Virginia. It's also almost a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament.
Syracuse went 9-4 through non-conference play, with a win over Iowa but losses to Cal, Michigan, St. John's and Villanova. The Orange then got to 5-1 in ACC play, but have since lost four of their last six games, after fading late in an 80-72 loss at home to Duke Saturday.
Syracuse led the Blue Devils by double-digits in the first half, fell down by 11 in the second, rallied to get within four points late but gave up the cover on two Duke free-throws with 10 seconds left. Meanwhile, the Orange made just six of 13 free-throws Saturday. There goes the cover.
Just before that Syracuse won at Boston College 70-56, covering as a two-point favorite, while just before that it lost at Pitt 83-77 as a four-point underdog.
At 16-9 overall, 7-5 in conference play Syracuse sits in sixth place in the ACC, but none of that really matters, now that the program has so bravely self-imposed a postseason ban for this year.
Louisville is shooting just 43 percent from the field this season, just 31 percent from 3-point range and 68 percent from the FT line. At the other end of the floor the Cardinals are holding opponents to just 38 percent shooting, which ranks 10th-best in the country.
Syracuse is shooting 44 percent from the floor, just 32 percent from long range and 65 percent from the line, while holding foes to just under 40 percent FG shooting.
Louisville is 10-11 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Cardinals games have averaged 131 points.
Syracuse is 12-6 on the totals, as Orange games have averaged 133 points.
Louisville is 4-3 ATS in true road games this season.
Syracuse is 3-9 ATS at home.
Louisville G Chris Jones, who averaging 14 points, four boards and four assists PG this season, has been suspended for a “team rules” thing, and will miss this game, and maybe more.
Over on the other side of the scorer's table Syracuse is without 6-10 F Chris McCullough (nine points/seven boards), who tore a knee earlier this month.
Cardinals vs. Orange Prediction
We're tempted to go with Louisville in this spot for our NCAA Basketball pick, as they're the better team playing on the road, where the spread is friendlier, but Jones' absence puts the kibosh on that idea. So instead, in thinking this game might devolve into a grinder, we'll go with the UNDER.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: UNDER 130.5 at BetOnline