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Syracuse basketball opens as 9.5-point underdog against Louisville

Andrew White

Syracuse, N.Y. -- The Syracuse basketball team opened as a 9.5-point underdog as it heads to Louisville, according to the website VegasInsider.com. The Orange will face the No. 7 Cardinals on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Louisville barely escaped the Carrier Dome with a 76-72 overtime win the first time the teams played, requiring unlikely heroics from redshirt freshman Ryan McMahon. Syracuse was close to winning despite making just 8 of 33 3-pointers in the game, well below its ACC average of 38 percent.

The Orange (17-12, 9-7 ACC) has been a vastly different team on the road this season, going just 2-9 away from the Carrier Dome. Louisville (22-6, 10-5) is 14-1 in the KFC Yum! Center with its only loss coming in late December against Virginia.

The Cardinals are powered by their defense, which ranks No. 5 in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency ratings. The Cardinals mix strong pressure on the perimeter with good rim protection, limiting teams to 44.5 percent shooting.

While Louisville isn't a particularly pretty offensive team, the Cardinals rank 16th in the ACC in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 36.2 percent of their misses. Syracuse is among the worst in the country on the defensive boards and the eight-rebound differential was a key for Louisville the first time the teams' met.

A victory would be enormous for the Orange, with a road win erasing the biggest flaw on SUs tournament resume and virtually ensuring that SU would earn an at-large bid. Louisville, meanwhile, is trying to rebound from a loss at North Carolina that severely damaged its chances of an ACC regular-season title.

Which team do you think will emerge with the win on Sunday?

Article by Chris Carlson

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