After a wildly competitive 2013 Big East tournament, the Louisville Cardinals and Syracuse Orange will meet up one last time to settle who wins the last Big East conference title ever.
This certainly isn't the matchup most experts would have predicted. The Cardinals' presence in this game is no surprise—they were the top seed on their side of the bracket and have played good basketball all season.
The intrigue comes in the Orange's presence in the conference tournament final. Syracuse came in as the No. 5 seed and the loser in four of its last five games. It really looked as though Jim Boeheim's club would be making an early exit in both season-ending tournaments.
However, they've caught fire since then. Highlighted by an overtime win over tournament favorite Georgetown in overtime, they have elevated their play across the board.
Can they continue their improbable run with a big win over Louisville? Will the Cardinals continue to look like a national championship threat?
These questions will be answered in the tournament's final game. Here's a look at some predictions.
Neither Team Scores over 60
If you're looking for a fast-paced up-and-down affair, avert your eyes. This game is going to get brutal.
According to TeamRankings.com, both Louisville and Syracuse rank in the top 20 in opponent field-goal percentage. Louisville also forces the second most turnovers per game at 18.7.
The last two times these teams met, those numbers were representative of the way the game played out. The Cardinals edged out the Orange 58-53.
Both teams have played good defense throughout the tournament. The Orange held Otto Porter and Georgetown to just 55 points, even with the extra period. The Cardinals haven't allowed a team over 60 points since Feb. 23, when they gave up 61 to Seton Hall.
Baskets will be few and far between in this one.
Peyton Siva Comes to Play
The Cardinals senior guard had a game to forget the last time Syracuse played Louisville.
The usually consistent backcourt force went ice cold with 0-for-9 shooting and no points. It was the worst game of his career. However, this is tournament time, and Siva is a three-year starter. This is when players like him shine.
He's been consistent in the tournament thus far, scoring in double digits in every game. He also had one of his best games in the season against Notre Dame in the semifinal with 12 points, six assists and seven steals.
Siva was held in check last time, but he'll be a huge factor this time around.
Louisville Leaves as Big East Champions
Syracuse's run has been a nice story, but there's no stopping this Cardinals team.
It bears repeating that this is a team that hasn't given up more than 60 points since Feb. 23. Even then, they gave up 61 points. This is a great defensive team that is completely comfortable playing the slow-paced grinding game this will be.
Throw in the fact that Syracuse will have to deal with the effects of playing four games in four days, and this is a matchup that belongs to the Cardinals. Expect a close game until the last 10 minutes, when Syracuse will run out of gas.
Louisville 55, Syracuse 50