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Big East Title Game
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SYRACUSE ORANGE (26-8) vs. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (28-5) Line & Total: Louisville -6 & 124.5

The two top coaches in the Big East, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino, will step on the sidelines to coach against each other in the Big East Tournament championship as No. 19 Syracuse and No. 4 Louisville tip-off Saturday night.

Louisville is peaking at just the right time, winning nine in a row SU and six straight ATS. Included in that streak is a five-point victory (58-53) against a favored Orange squad at the Carrier Dome, capping a three-game SU and ATS skid for Syracuse. The Orange have bounced back though, and looked good in the Big East Tournament with three straight SU wins and a 2-1 ATS record. And when these two teams first met in January, the Orange sent Louisville on a three-game skid of its own, beating the Cardinals by two on the road. Syracuse is 2-1 SU and ATS in the past three meetings between these schools. Although the Louisville defense has been one to be feared this season -- allowing just 57.9 PPG and forcing 18.6 turnovers per game (2nd-most in Division-I) -- the Syracuse 2-3 zone has equally flummoxed the Cardinals in recent years. The Orange just held top-seeded Georgetown to 37.7% shooting Friday (22% threes), and have allowed only 59.0 PPG in three games in the Big East Tournament.

No player was particularly good offensively for Syracuse in the win against Georgetown, though forward James Southerland (14.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG) made 4-of-10 threes, adding three blocks and two steals, in a 13-point performance. In the two games prior to that, he scored 20 points in each, and over the course of his last three, he's made 16-of-25 (64%) three-pointers. Southerland missed the win against then-No. 1 Louisville and posted 13 points in the loss to the Cardinals. The guy who starred in the victory was SG Brandon Triche (13.9 PPG), who scored 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. He made just 2-of-11 shots in the loss, however. SF C.J. Fair (14.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG) leads Syracuse in scoring this year and averaged 14.5 PPG in the two games against Louisville, but shot horribly in Friday's win (3-for-16 FG). The real key to this offense though, is PG Michael Carter-Williams (12.0 PPG), who is an impressive floor general with 7.7 APG (3rd in nation) and a 2.22 Ast/TO ratio. But the 6-foot-6 sophomore averaged 4.5 turnovers per game in the contests against the Cardinals and is coming off a terrible game Friday with three points (1-of-7 FG) and six turnovers, with a few of those coming in crucial spots. However, it was his steal and dunk in the final minute that sealed the win in Louisville and he remains a top-notch defender, averaging 2.82 SPG (tied for fifth in D-I).

The only guy to really score for Louisville in either meeting against Syracuse was SG Russ Smith (18.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG). The junior was the only Cardinals player to make it into double-figures in their home loss, dropping 25 points and adding four steals. When Louisville won, he scored a team-high 18 points and posted five assists. Smith is also coming off two huge games, averaging 24.0 PPG on 15-of-26 shooting in Louisville's Big East Tournament wins against Villanova and Notre Dame. C Gorgui Dieng (10.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG) also played big roles in both games against Syracuse, averaging 11.0 RPG, 7.5 PPG, 3.5 BPG and 4.0 APG. Dieng grabbed 12 boards and swatted four shots against the Fighting Irish on Friday. The key, though, will be getting PG Peyton Siva (10.0 PPG, 5.8 APG) and PF Chane Behanan (10.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG) going against the Orange. Siva went 1-for-18 from the field in the two games, including 1-for-15 from beyond the arc. In seven career meetings, Siva is averaging 3.7 points on 23% shooting (12.5% threes). Behanan made just 4-of-14 FG in the two meetings with the Orange and has struggled similarly lately, averaging 5.6 PPG over his past five games, a span in which he has not eclipsed double-digit points.

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