By Derek DeBurger

Louisville will face the Syracuse Orange to end their season series with the longtime conference foe.

The Feb 7th meeting between the two was a positive sign for both teams, as the Cards played phenomenal offense against what was considered a strong Syracuse defense at the time. For the Orange, the win over Louisville kicked off the first of five wins out of their last seven games, and they now are firmly in bubble talks for making the NCAA Tournament.

KenPom ranked Syracuse’s defense in the top 40 in the first matchup, but that was before their top two centers got injured for the rest of the season. Syracuse’s defensive efficiency rating has dropped 34 spots since Feb 7th. The tallest player that receives major minutes is Maliq Brown at 6’8”. Brandon Huntley-Hatfield should have a big night, assuming the Orange don’t do too much to deny the big down low.

Perhaps the biggest factor of Saturday’s game is who has something to play for. The Cards have nothing to gain from the regular season, while the Orange have a potential tournament berth. A loss to Louisville would almost guarantee that the Orange will be disappointed come Selection Sunday, so there will be an extra sense of urgency from the opposing side.

This Syracuse squad at home would look like a very friendly matchup for an average team. To the Cards, this will be an uphill climb from the start, and it’s hard to envision a world in which they pick up a win.