Syracuse’s next opponent: What to know about No. 18 Louisville
Published on February 19, 2019 at 5:09 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Syracuse (17-8, 8-4 Atlantic Coast) had a week off after a loss to North Carolina State to prepare for No. 18 Louisville (18-8, 9-4). The Cardinals are coming off a tight, 56-55, win over Clemson on Saturday. With the two teams side-by-side in the ACC standings, conference tournament seeding implications are on the line when they meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.Here’s what to know about the Cardinals. All-time series: Louisville leads, 18-9Last time they played: Syracuse played at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center on Feb. 5, 2018, and came away with a 78-73 road win. It was the usual trio for the Orange doing the scoring: Tyus Battle had 25 points, Frank Howard 22 and Oshae Brissett 16. Battle’s output included an 11 for 11 performance at the foul line.All three of the Cardinals who scored in double figures in that matchup are no longer on Louisville’s roster. The leading-returner from that game for UofL is Malik Williams, who had nine points in the Cardinals’ loss. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Louisville report: The Cardinals rank in the top-20 nationally in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, per Kenpom.com. Their offense starts with Buffalo-native Jordan Nwora, who has raised his scoring average by almost 12 points from last season to 17.5. He makes more than 38 percent of his 3s and 53 percent of his 2s, posing as much a threat spotting up as he does attacking the basket. He’s joined in double-figure scoring by guard Christen Cunningham and forward Dwayne Sutton. The Cardinals often rely on the 3 ball, as more than 34 percent of their scoring output comes from distance. Aside from the above mentioned, 6-foot guard Ryan McMahon provides a shooting spark off the bench.Louisville brings a pressuring brand of man-to-man defense to the floor, one that’s put six Cardinals in the double-digit mark for steals this season. Nwora leads the way there, too, with more than a steal per game. Inside, the 6-foot-10 Steven Enoch and 6-foot-11 Williams anchor the paint.How Syracuse beats Louisville: When Syracuse played Virginia Tech and Florida State, stifling man-to-man defense with good rotations shut the SU offense down. The Orange will have to find a way to penetrate against the Cardinals. In those two prior losses, the Orange continually made moves to try and find an edge past their man but couldn’t gain any advantage. Whether it’s ball screens, ball movement, or just clearing out and letting Tyus Battle go to work, Syracuse needs to show it can attack a good man-to-man defense.Beyond that, SU needs to win the battle at the free-throw line. It’s unlikely the Orange blow the Cardinals out, so in a close game, foul shots could matter. UofL has attempted about 80 more free throws than its opponents this season, and shot them at 76.9 percent, 11th nationally. Syracuse knocks down its freebies at 68.1 percent, 268th nationally. Stat to know: 13 — The amount of turnovers Louisville averages per game. That’s more than they’ve forced, and if Syracuse hopes to stick around with a top team, the Orange will need to force the Cardinals into making mistakes. KenPom odds: KenPom predicts Louisville to win, 67-66, and gives the Cardinals a 56 percent chance at the victory.Player to watch: Steven Enoch, center, No. 23Enoch is an imposing presence inside: 6-foot-10, 260 pounds. And he finishes in the paint as well, shooting more than 57 percent from 2-point range. But where he adds a whole new dimension is beyond the arc: Enoch’s knocked down 12-of-26 from 3 this season. He’s got more than 30 pounds on Paschal Chukwu and 80 pounds on Marek Dolezaj. SU will need to find a way to stop Enoch inside to hang around on Wednesday.