Daily Word: Is Louisville ready for MSU's Denzel Valentine

Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in the college basketball world.

1. Does Louisville have the type of defense required to stop Denzel Valentine and Michigan State?

Andy Katz: Of course. Louisville can pressure Michigan State and has the experience with Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. But the Spartans are at home and Breslin Center will help this team recover quickly from a long trip home from California and three games in four days.

Dana O'Neil: I think the Cardinals can be disruptive enough to upset the rhythm of Valentine -- and thereby Michigan State. The key is to deny him the ball as much as possible because, as he's shown time and time again, he's as lethal passing as he is shooting. That's going to take a committee more than one man.

C.L. Brown: I'm not sure Louisville has a single defender who could play lock-down defense on Valentine. But the Cardinals have a number of players -- paging Damion Lee and Jaylen Johnson -- to throw at him. Expect to see sprinkles of their matchup zone too for a different look. Last season in the Spartans' Elite Eight win against the Cardinals, Valentine had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Louisville will make him work hard to reach those numbers again.

2. Which one characteristic or player has fueled Syracuse's surprising start?

Katz: Shooting. The Orange are a much better perimeter shooting team than anyone projected. Jim Boeheim said if the Orange make shots they could be pretty good. Well, they made shots and they won the Battle 4 Atlantis. The experience of Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney, and the development of Tyler Lydon, make the Orange the surprise team of the first month of the season.

O'Neil: Good shooting is the difference. A season ago, the Orange relied solely on Trevor Cooney to make an outside shot, or to make any shot consistently for that matter. This season, Syracuse is shooting 41 percent from the arc (up from 30 a season ago) and spreading the wealth among Cooney, Michael Gbinje, Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon. When you have that many weapons, you're a much more difficult team to defend.

Brown: Having added freshmen who can score, like Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson, helps, but the Orange would not be off to a great start if not for the improved play of Michael Gbinije. The senior guard has only played less than 35 minutes in a game once this season. He's brought stability to the point guard position, but it hasn't hindered his scoring. He leads the Orange with 19.7 points per game.

3. A pair of top-10 offenses meet at Cameron Indoor. Does Indiana have enough firepower to topple Duke at home?

Katz: Sure. But the Hoosiers have to defend. Both teams have had defensive deficiencies at times this season. This game has the potential to be played in the 80's. But Duke likely wins.

O'Neil: The Hoosiers can score. No one is arguing that. Can they defend? That's the million-dollar question. Duke not only has guards who can drive and dish, but the Blue Devils have more than serviceable frontcourt players in Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee, who will expose Indiana's biggest weakness. If Indiana can't stop Duke from scoring, it can't win a track meet.

Brown: IU has the firepower to topple anybody. It all comes back to how well -- or if at all -- the Hoosiers can stop teams. They haven't shown the defensive fortitude to stop a team like Duke that has plenty of perimeter players who all like to drive.