Battle In The Big East

Syracuse helped Louisville move into a first-place tie in the Big East over the weekend.

Now, the 23rd-ranked Cardinals hope the Orange won't make their stay atop the conference standings a short one when the teams meet Monday night at Freedom Hall.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Louisville –10.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on Louisville -10.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Louisville (20-6, 10-3) won 80-72 at Providence on Saturday for its fifth straight victory and 11th in 13 games. The win came hours after Syracuse (17-9, 7-6) upset No. 8 Georgetown 77-70 at the Carrier Dome to avoid a third straight loss.

Those results left the Cardinals and Hoyas tied atop the Big East, one week after Louisville beat Georgetown 59-51 at home on Feb. 9. Notre Dame and Connecticut are a half-game behind.

The league co-leaders meet at Georgetown on March 8 to close out the regular season.

On Monday, the Cardinals can take over sole possession of first place with a victory and a Georgetown loss at Providence. Louisville won 76-71 at home over Syracuse on Jan. 27, 2007 in the most recent meeting. The Cardinals have won the last two matchups at Freedom Hall.

Louisville, though, knows its lone regular season meeting with the Orange probably won't be easy, despite its 12-2 record at home in 2007-08.

"Syracuse is a great team and we're really looking forward to playing them at Freedom Hall,'' Louisville guard Jerry Smith said. "They're coming off a very big win over Georgetown, so it will be very exciting.''

Earl Clark had 20 points with nine rebounds to lead four Louisville players in double figures Saturday. Despite being outrebounded, the Cardinals shot 46.0 percent to win a tight game that featured nine lead changes.

"Louisville's got a lot of answers," Providence coach Tim Welsh said. "If you don't keep scoring, they get that little gap. You've got to make all your plays to beat a team like this.''

Saturday marked the third time in five games the Cardinals scored 80 or more points. They're averaging 72.6 on the season.

Clark, who averages 10.7 points, bounced back after scoring 12 combined in his previous two games. He had 10 points and six rebounds in last season's meeting with Syracuse.

While Monday's matchup is important for Louisville in the conference race, Syracuse could use another win over a ranked school to boost its NCAA tournament hopes.

"Every game is important, every team is important now," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose 2006-07 squad went 21-9 during the regular season and 10-6 in the league, but didn't make the NCAA tournament field. "We just have to keep playing well."

On Saturday, the Orange got their first victory in four tries against ranked opponents this season. They'll look to win consecutive games over Top 25 teams for the first time since beating then-No. 1 Connecticut, then-No. 23 Georgetown and then-No. 15 Pittsburgh to capture the 2006 Big East tournament.

Paul Harris had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Orange on Saturday, while Donte Greene scored 18 points and Jonny Flynn added 17 and nine assists. Syracuse earned the upset due in part to a 26-4 first-half run.

Syracuse became just the second team to score more than 70 points against Georgetown this season. The Orange also held the Hoyas to 41.8 percent shooting, a game after allowing South Florida to shoot 57.1 percent in Wednesday's 89-78 road loss to the Bulls.

"This is definitely a quality, key win,'' said the 6-foot-5 Harris, a sophomore who's averaging 22.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in his last four contests. "But at the same time we have to keep believing in ourselves.''

Flynn, who along with Greene is one of the Big East's top freshmen, is averaging 19.3 points and 6.0 assists in his last four games.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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