1. Louisville Cardinals vs. 6. Syracuse Orange
Every time there is a new number one team in the nation, how they respond is always intriguing. That is especially the case when they have a huge test in their first matchup as the new top team in the nation. We get that exact matchup this week as the top dog Louisville Cardinals takes on the sixth ranked Syracuse Orange.
People can talk about how this was an easy pick, which it was, but how can you not choose this matchup. Two great teams in the Big East that are fighting for the top spot in the conference and although it still is early this could have implications on their seeds come tournament time.
Both teams come into this game with only one loss on the season and in the Cardinals case it came against once top-seeded Duke. A much better loss than the one Syracuse suffered at Madison Square Garden against Temple. Neither team has played a great schedule so far, but Louisville did get an impressive early season win against the Missouri Tigers.
In recent time, we have seen depth be a serious problem for the Orange as they have only really gone six deep at times. This year is a little different as they have five players who play over ten minutes a game. It will be interesting to see if that holds true in this game and if it close throughout the entire game. Syracuse is a fantastic rebounding team as they rank fourth in the nation and also can put some points on the board as they average 79 a game, but I feel like Louisville will be able to slow down their attack.
We have seen so many of Rick Pitino’s teams be pretty relentless with their pressure on defense and I think we will see more of that in this game. This team also has some offensive firepower with their guards in Russ Smith and Peyton Siva. It will of course be a battle at the guard position as Syracuse has both Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams to go against the duo from Louisville.
While the guard play will undoubtedly play a huge role in deciding the winner of this game, I think who wins the battle in the paint and on the glass will walk away the winner in this matchup. Syracuse may be a great rebounding team, but I think Gorgui Dieng will help the Cardinals control the paint as he is averaging just under a double-double with 9.2 points-per-game and 10.4 rebounds-per-game. He should clog up the middle and make it tougher for Triche and Carter-Williams to get to the hoop.
The Winner: Louisville Cardinals