The Syracuse Basketball Squad Set To Clash With Cardinals At Dome

After the Syracuse basketball team saw their winning streak snapped, it’s time to turn their attention to Louisville tonight at the dome.

The Syracuse basketball squad, which saw its five-game victory streak snapped over the weekend, looks to get back to its winning ways when it hosts Louisville on Monday night.

This is a monster battle for SU (16-10, 8-5 in conference competition). The Orange is skating on thin ice as far as a possible NCAA Tournament berth, and conquering a third top-10 team, albeit at home, would put the ‘Cuse in a bit of better shape.

The Cardinals, ranked No. 4 in last week’s AP Poll, come in at 20-5, and 8-4 in ACC play. Currently, Louisville and Duke sit a half-game ahead of Syracuse and Notre Dame in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.

Things are jammed up at the moment in the ACC, with only one-and-a-half games separating seven squads in the conference’s upper echelon. Every affair is critical; at the very least, SU must continue to hold serve on its home court, where so far in the 2016-17 campaign the Orange is 14-2.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are a combined 7-4 in away and neutral-site contests. Louisville is led by long-time head coach Rick Pitino, an assistant of Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim many, many years ago.

As we all know, Pitino and his Kentucky outfit outlasted Boeheim & Co. in the 1996 national

championship game. Pitino also claimed a second title in 2013 with the Cardinals, becoming the first-ever coach to guide two schools to the grand prize. The ‘Cuse made a somewhat surprising run to the Final Four during that same Big Dance.

Putting all of that aside, while at the Louisville helm, Pitino has pretty much owned Boeheim, including a 72-58 home throttling of the Orange on Feb. 17, 2016. Both coaches are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

To date, the Cardinals’ most-impressive successes are versus No. 15 Kentucky, No. 16 Purdue and No. 18 Duke, all at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

This past Saturday, the Cardinals held off a pesky Miami bunch, 71-66, at home. SU, on the other hand, fell flat on the road against Pittsburgh, suffering an 80-75 setback.

Statistically speaking, Syracuse and Louisville are fairly similar, except the Cardinals have a stifling defense and rebound – offensively and defensively – at a higher clip. Pitino’s boys love to press and trap, so sophomore John Gillon and the rest of the guards have to take care of the ball.

We also have to shoot much better from downtown than versus Pittsburgh, or it will prove a long night. And that is daunting, considering that Louisville defends extremely well from 3-point land.

After dealing with injuries to several key players, Louisville appears back at full strength. This could amount to the ‘Cuse’s toughest match-up at this juncture, although SU also has to play the Cardinals on the road in the near future.

Given the poor outcome on Saturday afternoon at the Pete, I’m hopeful that the Orange is primed to bounce back. Our boys need to seize their opportunities to defeat ranked foes, particularly in Central New York. Let’s hope they can get back on the right track.

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