Matchup: #12 Louisville Cardinals at Syracuse Orange
Date/Time: February 18, 7:00 p.m. ET
College Basketball Betting Odds From Sportsbook.ag
Spread: Louisville -3
The Louisville Cardinals are no strangers to the Carrier Dome and the Syracuse Orange. The former Big East rivals moved to the ACC together and have continued their longstanding college basketball rivalry. Unlike past seasons, these teams have no chance at meeting in the conference tournament because of Syracuse’s self-imposed postseason ban, but the Orange will have another opportunity to knock off a top-10 opponent with Louisville in town on Wednesday night. They are a road underdog in the Carrier Dome for the second straight game.
Louisville suffered a surprising setback in their last game, falling at home 74-65 against the NC State Wolfpack. It was Louisville’s first loss against a team outside of the top 25 this season and their third loss at home. The other two were against Duke and Kentucky. The Cardinals are still in fine shape for making the tournament with their 20-5 record and 8-4 conference mark, but they have lost four of their six games against ranked opponents. Syracuse isn’t ranked, but this is still a big game for Rick Pitino’s bunch because they need some sort of win that looks good to the selection committee. They’ll have two shots at home against Notre Dame and Virginia next month, but winning on the road has been important historically for seeding.
The Cardinals are led by Terry Rozier with 18 points. Rozier is also one of the team’s better three-point shooters, though the bar is set very low for that distinction. The Cardinals have shot just 30.5 percent from distance. Montrezl Harrell has averaged 15.4 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting over 57 percent from the floor. Chris Jones and Wayne Blackshear have each averaged double figures for the Cardinals, who have not gotten much production from the bench players this season. After Blackshear, the next highest point total belongs to Chinanu Onuaku with 3.2 points per game. Jones is suspended for this game, however, so somebody from the Louisville bench will have to step up.
The Syracuse Orange gave it a great effort against Duke but came up short in what is essentially a tournament game for Jim Boeheim’s team given the postseason ban. The Orange have two home games left against ranked opponents as Virginia comes to town on March 2. Their remaining schedule is very tough with trips to Notre Dame and Duke on the horizon. Boeheim and the athletic department smartly opted for the postseason ban in a down year for the Orange. With one of the top incoming freshmen classes next season, Boeheim can plan for the future and ignore a season that has included losses to Michigan, St. John’s Miami, Cal, Clemson and Pitt.
Rakeem Christmas tried to have a showcase game against Duke to improve his dradft stock, but the team’s leading scorer only managed 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting. He leads the team with 17.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this season. Normally he is an accurate shooter with a 56.5 success rate this season. Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije have combined for over 27 points this season while chipping in over seven rebounds and nearly seven assists per game. Syracuse may opt to give some more playing time to Kaleb Joseph the rest of the way to see what they have in the freshman.
Louisville and Syracuse have fallen short of the expectations placed upon them by the oddsmakers this season. Louisville is 20-5 with a 9-13-2 record against the spread. Syracuse is just 7-14-1 against the number with their 16-9 straight up mark. Syracuse has been a good over team this season with a 12-6 record to the over.
Free College Basketball Picks: Louisville Cardinals
This is a strong bounce back spot for the Cardinals against a Syracuse team that has not played great defense this season. The Orange normally force jump shots, which isn’t Louisville’s strength, but Syracuse will probably have a big of a hangover from the Duke loss and Louisville needs to erase the bad home loss to NC State. Louisville also needs this game for a nice win in a hostile environment to impress the selection committee.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.