Syracuse Basketball: Orange Face Tough Road Test at No. 1 Louisville

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIJanuary 18, 2013

Mar 3, 2012; Syracuse, NY, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino (right) shakes hands with Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim (left) after the game at the Carrier Dome.  Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse faces its toughest test of the season so far when it travels to Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday afternoon to take on the No. 1-ranked Cardinals.

The KFC Yum! Center, which opened in 2010, has proven to be a tough place to play. Louisville has an overall record of 44-6 in the building.

The Cardinals, led by coach Rick Pitino, are poised to make a second-straight trip to the Final Four.  Their only blemish on the schedule so far is a 76-71 loss to the Duke Blue Devils. They are coming off an impressive 73-58 road victory over Connecticut.

Louisville is paced on offense by guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva.

Smith is the top scorer on the team, pouring in 18.9 points per game. Siva, the second-leading scorer, contributes 11.8 points and leads the team with 5.6 assists per game.

Aside from the backcourt duo, the Cardinals also posses a force to be dealt with down low. Gorgui Dieng scores just under 10 a game, but his 6'11" frame helps him pull down 10.4 rebounds. He is coming off a 16-rebound game against the Huskies.

Forward Chane Behanan also causes trouble under the glass for opposing teams.

Though this one will be a tough test, Syracuse should have confidence matching up with the Cardinals, having won both games a season ago, including a 52-51 road victory.

The Orange will look to remain unbeaten in Big East play and notch a signature win for their NCAA tournament resume. Syracuse is currently 16-1 (4-0) and ranked sixth nationally.

Head coach Jim Boeheim has his team performing well this season, led by Brandon Triche, who averages 14.1 a game. The Orange also get solid contributions from junior forward C.J. Fair and sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams leads the NCAA with 9.4 assists per game.

Syracuse is ranked 16th in the nation in scoring at 79 points per contest, and they rank fourth in rebounding with 43.2 a game.

Unfortunately for 'Cuse in this one, it will be playing without an important piece. Senior James Southerland has been suspended indefinitely due to an academic issue. Southerland, the first man off the bench, is having a career year, scoring 13.6 points and grabbing 5.2 rebounds per game.

Freshman Jerami Grant, who filled in last week and scored 13 points, is going to have to step up and lead the bench for Boeheim.

Regardless of the outcome, this game should end up being one of the best of the entire weekend. Enjoy.