SYRACUSE ORANGE (16-1)
at LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (16-1)
KFC Yum! Center Ė Louisville, KY
Tip-off: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
Line: Louisville -7, Total: 133.5
One team is guaranteed to lose its second game of the season as No. 1 Louisville hosts No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.
The Orange will bring one of the nationís best offenses down to Louisville, scoring 79.0 PPG (14th in Division I) and rebounding 43.2 missed shots per game (4th in nation). The Cardinals' stats are less gaudy (34th in scoring, 76.9; 47th in rebounding, 38.6), but they have yet to lose a game all season with C Gorgui Dieng (9.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG) on the floor, and he should be able to battle down low against Jim Boeheimís zone defense and pick up the trash against a team that lacks a true center. Syracuse must also continue to adapt to life without senior F James Southerland (13.6 PPG, 38% 3-pt FG), their invaluable sixth man who is out due to an NCAA eligibility issues. Louisville is 7-2 SU (7-1-1 ATS) in the past nine meetings, but Syracuse won both meetings last season, prevailing 52-51 at KFC Yum Center.
Will the Cardinals be able to win comfortably over Syracuse on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts have a collective 15-9 ATS (63%) mark in the past three days, boosting them to 53.1% ATS (239-211-8) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who sits at 59.1% ATS (55-38) for the season, while StatFox Dave is 6-2 ATS (75%) in the past three days and 55% ATS (88-72-3) on the year. StatFox Brian is also starting to heat up, going 7-3 ATS (70%) in the past seven days.
Four double-digit scorers pace the Syracuse offense, but that includes Southerland. Nobody is more critical to the offense than PG Michael Carter-Williams (11.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG) who is arguably the best passer in the nation with 9.4 APG (leads D-I). He is also an incredible defender, swiping 3.2 SPG (4th in nation). He has struggled a bit lately, though averaging just 10.3 PPG and 6.0 APG in his past three, a stretch where the Orange are averaging just 66.3 PPG. SG Brandon Triche (14.1 PPG, 3.6 APG) is the teamís leading scorer while SF C.J. Fair (13.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG) is the teamís top rebounder. Fair scored 13 points in the win at Louisville last year, while Triche pumped in 18 points in the home win over the Cardinals. Fair is also coming off two consecutive 20-point performances this season, blocking four shots in each of those games. Heís aided in the post by top talents Rakeem Christmas (6.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG) and DaJuan Coleman (5.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG) who have the weight to throw the taller Dieng around.
Louisville SG Russ Smith (team-high 18.9 PPG) is coming off a 23-point effort against Connecticut on Monday. He made 10-of-20 shots that game after hitting just 4-of-24 FG attempts over the previous two contests. Smith was just 5-for-18 FG (0-for-8 threes) last season versus Syracuse. Smith is also a top-notch defender with 2.35 SPG (T-25th in nation). PG Peyton Siva (11.8 PPG, 5.6 APG) also has 2.35 SPG and is as savvy of a floor general as they come. He is starting to shoot the ball better, going 12-of-18 from the field in the teamís past two games. SF Chane Behanan (11.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG) is the teamís third and final double-digit scorer, and is coming off a stellar performance on Monday (16 pts, 9 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl). He had 13.0 PPG on 12-of-15 FG against Syracuse last year. Behanan and Dieng are the guys to watch down low, and Dieng has been an absolute beast on the boards lately. He has recorded double-digit rebounds in every Big East game thus far, averaging 14.3 RPG in those four games. Dieng also averaged 11.0 RPG and 3.0 BPG against the Orange last season.