NCAA Betting: Syracuse hosts West Virginia

By: Willie Bee | Sunday, February 13, 2011

Maybe the color orange has something to do with it.  Then again, maybe not.  Either way it's sure looking like this year's Syracuse Orange is a remake of last season's Texas Longhorns squad.

Syracuse dropped its sixth game in the last eight trips to the floor on Saturday, falling 73-69 at Louisville, setting the Orange up in must-win situations their final five games if they want a good shot of having a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament.  The first of those must-wins comes Monday at home against the West Virginia Mountaineers who are in need of a strong closing run themselves.

ESPN will broadcast the tip a little past 4 p.m. (PT) from the Carrier Dome, leading into the Kansas, Kansas State contest at 6 p.m..

The latest defeat for Syracuse (20-6 straight up, 9-15 against the spread) marked the third week in the last four that that Orange have gone 0-2.  The Orange opened the season 18-0, rising to No. 3 in both polls and even garnering some first-place votes.  It's an eerily similar path that Texas took in the 2009-10 season, cranking off a 17-0 opening run to hit No. 1 in the polls only to see the season fall apart from that point on.

Favored by two at home, Louisville appeared to have a laugher on its hands when the Cardinals stretched their lead to 20 points in the second half.  Syracuse fought back, however, before just falling short.  Fifteen turnovers and four fewer three-pointers ultimately did the Orange in.  Now we'll see if the furious and failed rally will prove a drain on Syracuse who has just one day of rest before Monday's tilt.  Five players were on the court at least 30 minutes, led by Scoop Jardine and Brandon Tiche who scored 20 and 21 points respectively.

The recent 2-6 stretch – both SU and ATS – leaves the Orange 7-6 in conference play and one of five teams in a logjam for seventh place in the Big East, 4.5-games behind Pittsburgh.

West Virginia (16-8 SU, 9-12 ATS) hasn't been world beater itself the last month, going 4-4 straight up and 3-5 at the NCAA odds window. At 7-5 in the Big East, the Mountaineers are four games back of Pitt and tied with Villanova for fifth in the conference.

Bob Huggins' crew is coming off Saturday's 82-71 home win over DePaul, the victory snapping a two-game skid but leaving WVU 0-3 against the spread its last three games.  John Flowers paced five Mountaineers in double-digits with 15 points, and the team was strong from the foul line making 20-of-25 free throws.  West Virginia is shooting a tad less than 69 percent from the stripe on the season.

Syracuse backers looking for good news will find the Orange winning the last three meetings with West Virginia, all as underdogs.  The lone meeting a season ago was a 72-71 Syracuse win as six-point underdogs on the road in Morgantown.  The most recent matchup in Syracuse was Feb. 2009, a 74-61 triumph by the Orange.

Four of the last five battles between the two schools have gone 'under' the total.  The one 'over' came in the 2009 Big East Tournament, a 74-69 Syracuse victory with the scoreboard number at 139.

Syracuse remains home following this game for Saturday's matchup with Rutgers.  West Virginia returns home to host Notre Dame the same day.

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