Monday, February 13, 2012
Streaks on line as Rivalry Week ends
Rivalry Week comes to an end with two Big Monday matchups on ESPN. At 7 Eastern, No. 2 Syracuse travels to No. 18 Louisville. The nightcap at 9 Eastern is a Sunflower State showdown between No. 5 Kansas and Kansas State.
(2) Syracuse at (18) Louisville, 7 ET on ESPN
The Orange have won three straight road games against ranked opponents, tied for their longest streak since the start of the 1996-97 season. However, Syracuse has failed to win in four road trips to Louisville since the Cardinals joined the Big East. The Cardinals have won seven straight meetings between the schools, with the Orange last winning on Feb. 18, 2006.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Syracuse’s seven-game losing streak to Louisville is the longest that Jim Boeheim has suffered against a Big East opponent. The Cardinals are also perfect in four games against Syracuse when the Orange are ranked in the Top 5.
The key for both teams so far this season has been defense. Both rank in the Top 15 in the nation in steals per game and field-goal percentage defense.
But while Syracuse is also among the top teams in taking care of the ball (fourth-lowest turnover percentage at 16 percent), their pressure could impact Louisville. The Orange average 22 points per game off of turnovers, the most of any Power Six school. Louisville turns the ball over nearly 15 times per game, the second-highest rate in the Big East.
Even with the return of Fab Melo, Syracuse’s zone defense hurts on the defensive glass. The Orange have the ninth-worst defensive rebound percent in the nation and have been outrebounded by double digits in four of their last seven games, including the loss to Notre Dame. Louisville could press this advantage on the glass, as Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng each rank in the Top 100 in the nation in offensive rebound percent.
(5) Kansas at Kansas State, 9 ET on ESPN
Kansas has 182 wins all-time against Kansas State, the most wins for the Jayhawks against any opponent. The Wildcats won their last home game against their in-state rival, but haven’t had much success in the series recently. Since the formation of the Big 12 prior to the 1996-97 season, the Wildcats are just 3-35 against the Jayhawks.
Kansas State’s home win last season gives the Wildcats a rare chance to win back-to-back home games against Kansas. They last won consecutive home games against the Jayhawks during a four-game streak that concluded in 1983.
After starting the season at 17-3, Kansas has lost two of its last five games with losses at Iowa State and Missouri. The last time the Jayhawks lost more than two road games in a season was 2008-09, when they dropped two non-conference games before finishing 6-2 in Big 12 action.