Syracuse will enter Wednesday's game with the 18th-ranked Louisville Cardinals on a 5-game winning streak, their second highest streak of the season. The Orange won their first six games of the season before losing to Wisconsin.
Roughly a week ago, the University of Louisville announced a self-imposed postseason ban for the 2015-16 season, much like SU's last season. The Cardinals will not be eligible for postseason play, which includes the NCAA Tournament, ACC Tournament and the NIT. Earlier this week, U of L also announced starting center Anas Mahmoud will miss the remainder of the season with a sprained ankle.
The Cardinals are led by senior guard Damion Lee who averages just over 16 points per game. Fellow senior guard Trey Lewis is second of the team is scoring with 12.2 per game. Lee and Lewis are Louisville's leaders. They'll pressure SU's guards all night long, which is Rick Pitino's style. Without a true point guard, Syracuse could struggle with turnovers early in the game.
Former SU center Arinze Onuaku's brother, Chinanu, leads U of L with 8.4 rebounds per game. He'll see significant minutes on Wednesday night. The Cardinals best win of the season came over then-2nd-ranked North Carolina on February 1. It ended the Tar Heels 12-game winning streak.
Things to watch:
1. Guard play: Syracuse will need solid guard play on Wednesday night. With Lewis and Lee up in Gbinije and Cooney's shorts all night long, turnovers cannot be a factor if the Orange want to win their sixth straight game. Expect Frank Howard to play a lot tomorrow, as Boeheim said after SU's win over Boston College. Guard play will need to be as good as it's been all season for the Orange to escape Louisville victorious.
2. Hot play: Winners of their last five games, and eight of nine, Syracuse will look to continue their hot play of late. Since Jim Boeheim's return from suspension, Syracuse is 8-2. The Orange, as of right now, have played their way into the NCAA Tournament. A win against Louisville would almost guarantee an at-large bid come March.
3. Freshmen offensive contributions: Syracuse is a much better team when Tyler Lydon contributes on the offensive end. Against Boston College on Sunday, Lydon scored a team-high 20 points in SU's 14-point victory. Between Lydon, Malachi Richardson and Frank Howard, Syracuse has an incredibly bright future. Howard has tremendous vision, and Richardson is a natural scorer. They'll need all three to contribute on Wednesday in order to pull off the upset.