I’ll admit, titling this post “The Final Countdown” is just an excuse to run this video:
Long live Gob!
Now, onto the Big East Tourney Final. Just writing that sentence gets me pumped. In fact, I haven’t slept more than six hours combined the last two nights. This team has gotten me jacked up to the point where I probably shouldn’t operate heavy machinery and I’m ok with that.
On with the preview with a look at some stats for both teams:
Syracuse actually stacks up quite well to Louisville on paper. The Orange score more and shoot better from the field (except from 3), but the key to the Cards is their defense. They are 2nd in the Big East in opponent FG%, 2nd in blocks, and 1st in steals. They are also 2nd in the conference in scoring defense. Interesting note- if Syracuse wins they will have beaten the 1st, 2nd and 4th best scoring defenses in the conference in three straight days.
Syracuse will have to keep up their recent trend of taking care of the ball, something that gets harder to do when you’re tired and you’re facing an opponent who likes to press, both of which are factors in this game. I have a feeling Devendorf, Rautins and even Harris are going to have to chip in to take some of the pressure off of Flynn. He is gassed and Louisville knows this. They will be in his grill all night and would be stupid to lay off of him as he has proven time and time again to be the heart of this team.
The key for Syracuse will be how they can rebound defensively in the zone with their tired legs. Louisville features three very good rebounders in Earl Clark (8.8 rpg), Terrance Williams (8.5 rpg) and Samardo Samuels (4.7 rpg). While Samuels doesn’t have the gaudy numbers of his two teammates, he is averaging 2.5 offensive rebounds per game, good for 14th in the Big East. In the January loss to Louisville at the Carrier Dome, the Orange gave up 21 offensive rebounds to the Cards, the most they gave up all season to an opponent. If Syracuse wants to win they need keep the Cards away from the offensive glass.
Can they pull it off? I’m not sure. But then again I didn’t think they would handle West Virginia after 6 overtimes. Tonight I think it catches up to them and they go down after a valiant effort. But a four or five seed could await them if they keep it close.
Louisville 70 – Syracuse 59