College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Louisville vs. Syracuse (Saturday, Feb. 5)
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: El Ellis (Louisville)
- The Syracuse Orange (11-11) host the Louisville Cardinals (11-11) on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET in a competition between middling ACC conference foes.
- The Orange opened as 6.5-point favorites; updated odds now make Syracuse anywhere from -6.5 to -7.5 across the betting market.
- Louisville has lost four consecutive games and failed to cover in each of them, but our college basketball betting analyst explains why you should consider backing the Cardinals on Saturday despite their recent performances.
Louisville vs. Syracuse Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Syracuse and Louisville are two of the biggest underperformers in the entire country this season, with the Orange hovering around .500 and the Cardinals already searching for the next coach to lead the program after firing Chris Mack.
The Orange have never finished a season under .500 in the first 45 years that Jim Boeheim has coached the team, and the last two wins against Wake Forest and NC State have helped them get back to level standing.
The bubble is still a ways away for the Orange though, despite the fact that they seem to always gravitate toward the cut line come March.
Louisville put in two improved efforts in the last two games at home against Duke and North Carolina. The Cards somehow failed to cover in both games despite being tied with Duke (+7.5) with seven minutes to play and going to overtime with UNC (+4).
The improved effort and performances since Mack left the program aren’t quite captured in the numbers, and the Orange have run really hot from deep in the last couple games.
It’s a good buy-low, sell-high spot here on the Cardinals.
Louisville hasn’t really seen the Syracuse zone at all, given that both of the Cardinals’ meetings with the Orange last season were canceled due to COVID-19.
The 2019-20 Cardinals were a much different group of players, so the lack of familiarity could be an issue for Louisville.
There’s two areas that the Cardinals have matchup advantages on offense.
Louisville gets excellent looks in post-up situations and can pass out of those looks to generate open 3-point shots. And the Cardinals also are an above-average team at shooting unguarded 3-pointers, which they’ll get a ton of against the 2-3 zone.
You can’t really post-up against a 2-3 zone consistently, but the Cardinals have multiple players it can put at the free throw line to run the offense through effectively.
Louisville has three shooters making at least 36% from deep, and it will get so many open looks in this game that it’s hard to see how the Orange will get margin.
The Cardinals’ advanced metrics are pretty poor across the board, but you have to take into account the lacking effort to play for Mack into those numbers.
Under interim head coach Mike Pegues, I’d argue that the Cardinals have outperformed expectations, even though they are 0-2 against the spread.
Louisville’s improved effort isn’t priced in at all here based on the opening line.
About eight days ago, the Orange hit rock bottom with two consecutive non-competitive losses to Duke and Pittsburgh. Legitimate questions surround this program long term with life after Boeheim, but the sky appeared to be falling following that lifeless 11-point loss in Pittsburgh on Jan. 25.
What a difference a week makes.
Syracuse blew out Wake Forest at home in a dream matchup and a dream spot, making 10-of-19 from 3 (53%) and turning over the Deacs 17 times.
Then, the Orange went on the road and shot the lights out again, making 11-of-19 from 3 (56%) in an 89-82 win vs. NC State. Cole Swider and Buddy Boeheim are finally heating up from 3, and the shooting prowess of the Orange has been on full display in the last week.
But the shooting has papered over the holes that still exist with this team. The Orange have a defense so bad that it’s hard to make them a conference favorite of multiple possessions here.
Syracuse allows a ton of open 3s — even more than years past. The Orange don’t protect the rim well at all, either, despite the improvement of center Jesse Edwards.
ShotQuality says that based on the quality of shots, the Orange should have scored 73 against Wake and 79 against NC State. That means that Syracuse over-performed by 21 and 10 points, respectively, in those two wins.
The market is now inflating this Syracuse offense, which relies a lot more on individual shotmaking than it does open 3 rate.
The Orange are an iso-heavy offense, but the Cardinals rank 71st in off the dribble 3-point defensive, per ShotQuality. Louisville can take away some of what the Orange’s offense wants to do here.
Louisville vs. Syracuse Betting Pick
About a week ago, this line probably would’ve been four or five for the Orange at home, given how low the market was on them coming into the Wake Forest game.
What’s changed in a week? Syracuse finally made a ton of 3s in consecutive games, but everyone has it pegged as an excellent jump-shooting team.
The Syracuse defense hasn’t really improved, there’s room for the Orange’s post defense to fall based on ShotQuality regression indicators and Louisville can make the unguarded 3s that the Orange will allow.
The Orange will probably win at home, but it projects as a pretty close game. These two teams aren’t that far apart in true talent and quality (even with Malik Williams out for Louisville). That is especially true when you factor in that the Cardinals seem to be showing more effort in the last two games.
Anything of five points or more is enough for me to back the Cardinals at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
Pick: Louisville +5 or better