Syracuse Basketball: How to watch 'Cuse at Louisville in must-win for tourney resume

Syracuse basketball, which has won three straight, travels to Louisville on Saturday night in a must-win game for the 'Cuse.
Syracuse basketball, which has won three straight, travels to Louisville on Saturday night in a must-win game for the 'Cuse. / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

I'm never a huge fan of declaring games as must-wins for Syracuse basketball, but the Orange's road contest versus Louisville on Saturday evening is exactly that if the 'Cuse wants to remain in contention for an invite to this spring's NCAA Tournament following a two-year absence from March Madness.

Now, the 'Cuse could of course just go out and win the ACC Tournament later this month in Washington, D.C., but that's a hard ask. Regardless of what the national "experts" say, the Atlantic Coast Conference is a strong league that will have multiple of its members dancing in March.

Whether Syracuse basketball is among them remains to be seen. The Orange, though, is playing good basketball these days, having won three straight and five of its last seven to creep closer to the proverbial bubble for the 2024 Big Dance.

It's a jumbled mess in the middle of the league's standings, and where the 'Cuse (19-10, 10-8 in the ACC) will finish is unclear. However, the Orange can vault into the top four to the top six, but the 'Cuse needs to close out the 2023-24 regular season strong, and we'll also have to see what happens with other conference foes in the final few games before the ACC Tournament.

This past Tuesday night, Syracuse basketball put forth a solid performance in defeating Virginia Tech by 13 points. That was the final regular-season home affair for the Orange, which now hits the road twice to wrap up the regular campaign.

How to watch Syracuse basketball at Louisville in a critical ACC encounter.

The Orange and the Cardinals (8-20, 3-14 in the ACC) will tip off at 8 pm on Saturday, March 2, from the KFC Yum! Center, with the ACC Network airing this league contest. Coverage may also be available on fuboTV.

While Syracuse basketball is on a roll, Louisville is not. The Cardinals have lost four in a row and find themselves in the basement of the ACC standings. Based on Louisville's NCAA NET ranking, this game won't move the needle at all for the Orange, other than that it's a chance for the 'Cuse to notch a road victory.

Based on its play of late, Syracuse basketball is starting to get a bit more buzz as it pertains to the 2024 NCAA Tournament, but the Orange must beat Louisville. Then, in the regular-season finale next Tuesday night, the 'Cuse will head to Clemson to face the Tigers and former SU guard Joe Girard III in a quadrant-one opportunity for Syracuse basketball.

If the Orange can go 2-0 at Louisville and Clemson, that will give the 'Cuse 21 wins before the NCAA Tournament, and I believe it will put Syracuse basketball in a solid position to hear its name called on Selection Sunday. However, first the Orange has to take care of business in these next two affairs.

To me, conquering Louisville on the road will come down to three things for the 'Cuse. Shooting the ball well, holding its own on the glass, and manufacturing points in transition via defensive boards, deflections and steals.

In numerous recent games, Syracuse basketball has connected on a solid clip from the field, but as a whole in 2023-24, the Orange is not a great shooting squad. The Cardinals have a porous defense, allowing nearly 79 points per game, while also committing close to 13 turnovers per meeting (those statistics were prior to Louisville's battle at No. 10 Duke on Wednesday evening).

On February 7 at the JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse basketball managed to escape Louisville by a final count of 94-92 in a thrilling match-up. However, the Cardinals still lead their all-time series with the Orange, 19-13.

After the 'Cuse squares off with Louisville, the Orange will wrap up its regular season by traveling to Littlejohn Coliseum to play Clemson. That conference encounter will take place beginning at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 5, with television coverage on ESPN2.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Here’s how ‘Cuse has a realistic path to NCAA Tournament invite. Syracuse Basketball: Here’s how ‘Cuse has a realistic path to NCAA Tournament invite. dark