The No. 6 Louisville Cardinals have looked the part of an ACC champion and possible NCAA Tournament champion, winning against preseason NCAA Tournament favorite Oregon. The Cardinals did slip up in Columbus, losing to the Buckeyes, 67-60. Meanwhile, the Syracuse Orange played a brutal non-conference schedule, facing Oregon, Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State and West Virginia. The Orange recently earned a win against the Spartans with ease, 77-63 but narrowly lost to West Virginia, 71-69, in the Florida Sunshine Classic finale.
The last time Louisville took the court, it looked mortal against University of Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks led most of the game and were able to force two overtimes, but the Cardinals won 71-63. Dana Evans remains the outright leader of Louisville, scoring 22 points and shooting 10-for-10 from the charity stripe in the win. Evans is averaging 19.3 points on the season. Jazmine Jones is second in scoring for Louisville with 12.9 points, while scoring 20 or more points four times this season. Kylee Shook is averaging 10.2 points and 8.8 rebounds, recording back-to-back double-doubles.
Syracuse earned its first win against a ranked team in the Florida Sunshine Classic against then-No. 19 Michigan State. The Orange have three players who average double figures: Kiara Lewis with 15.4 points, Gabrielle Cooper with 10.6 points and Emily Engstler with 10.1 points. Lewis has scored in double figures in nine of 10 games this year. Cooper scored a season-high 19 points in the win against Michigan State. Engstler had one double-double as a freshman and as a sophomore has six, averaging 11.6 rebounds on the season.
Syracuse is not a great shooting team — just 39 percent from the field — which means it will come down to its defense and some hot shooting from beyond the arc. Despite shooting 30.5 percent from the 3-point area, the Orange have four games with 10-plus made 3-pointers. Louisville should have the advantage, as they have shot under 45.0 percent just four times all year, losing just one of those games.
No. 6 Louisville (11-1) vs. Syracuse (6-5)
When: Sunday, Dec 29, at 2:00 p.m. ET
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
How to watch: ESPN2