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Syracuse - Virginia Preview

Syracuse students agree: It would be nice to score more than 34 points.
Syracuse is coming off two conference losses in a row. And it doesn't get any easier with the defending National Champions again. Syracuse obviously performed badly in the first match, but it was the first game of the season. Since then Syracuse's offense has gotten better. Unfortunately, it seems as though the defense has gotten worse. Can Syracuse pull an upset on the road and get the season back on track?
Syracuse heads in a pretty good underdog to UVA again. UVA is still the #1 defense in the nation. While Syracuse's shooting and offensive flow has drastically improved since game one, Syracuse is still playing against the best defense. So you can't have too high hopes for this one. Granted, Syracuse probably faced a more daunting task last year and Duke, where they pulled the upset. But frankly, that was partially due to Chukwu playing above his head on offense at Cameron. Unless Sidibe has the game of his life today in the paint, Syracuse really needs to hit every shot from the outside from Girard, Boeheim, Hughes, and anyone else daring enough to throw a shot up from behind the arc. And Syracuse will have to make shots, to make points in the paint possible. I'm hoping for the best, but it's hard to pick against UVA in this one. Virginia over Syracuse by 16.
This game is available on ESPN at 4:00pm. John will be watching. I'm only in for the first half. Fingers crossed and GO ORANGE!

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Virginia Tech - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse should beat Virginia Tech.
Syracuse came up one point short against Notre Dame in a really entertaining game with a disappointing ending. Now Virginia Tech heads into the Dome before Syracuse departs on the road. Can Syracuse take care of business in this one?
Virginia Tech comes in with the same conference record of 1-2. Their leading scorer is Redshirt Freshman Landers Nolley II, who is leading the team in scoring at 17.4ppg. Like Notre Dame, Virginia Tech will be chucking up a ton of 3s in this one. The good news is, unlike Notre Dame, VTech doesn't have much of an inside scoring threat like ND. Similarly, they don't present a large rebounding challenge, matching up virtually identically with Syracuse. Their leading rebounder is Nolley from the guard position. Syracuse should be able to get a rebounding advantage out of the Zone and get some easy transition buckets in this one. Additionally, Syracuse is a better defending team than VTech, and should be able to fblock some shots on the rare case the Hokies go inside. VTech takes care of the ball well, as they're 4th in the country in turnovers, but Syracuse, like against Notre Dame, should find some success pressuring the ball. Jim Boeheim has already said we'll see more of Quincy Guerrier in this game, and considering Virginia Tech isn't that tall of a team, Syracuse should find some success in the paint using him. Syracuse has a much better matchup in this game than against Notre Dame. I'm taking the Orange over the Hokies by eight.
This game is available on The ACC Network at 9:00pm. John and I are both watching from the home offices. Google what a Hokie is, and GO ORANGE!

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Notre Dame - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Notre Lame is lame.
Syracuse opens true ACC play at home with Notre Dame. Both teams are having a fairly down year, but all bets are off in conference play. Can Syracuse start the slate off with a win?
Syracuse enters the game a slim favorite at home. And Syracuse opens with the best rebounding player in the nation. A double-double machine, Notre Dame's John Mooney will prevent many second chance opportunities from Syracuse. He's got 10 on the season, averaging 14.9ppg and 13.5rpg. Sidibe will have to stay foul free, and try and make his life difficult. Notre Dame also doesn't turn over the ball much, only having 9.6 per game which is second in the nation. This is going to be a offensive game. The winner of the game will be the offense that performs better, and doesn't have a lengthy scoring drought. If Syracuse consistently makes shots, or is even able to force some unusual turnovers out of Notre Dame to get a few quick runouts, Syracuse should be in good shape. if Syracuse gets in foul trouble, or is dominated in the paint and on the boards, this game could be over quick. I honestly have no faith in Sidibe to stop points in the paint, and it will likely end up with Dolezaj running defense that will help in any way. Only by the fact Syracuse is at home, I'm picking the Orange in a tight one. SU by 5 over ND.
This game is available on ESPN 2 at 4:00pm. Syracuse is in the Dome with John. I'm in the home office. We'll see you out there. GO ORANGE!

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Niagara - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Yeah we'll watch, but the CFP will be on the other TV.
Syracuse has one more game before the ACC really starts up. And Syracuse faces a familiar opponent in Greg Paulus, the now coach of Niagara. Unfortunately, much like Oklahoma - LSU in the football playoff, this one also probably won't be very close.
Niagara is an interesting team in that they are notable for being the shortest team collectively in America. They also are 2nd worst in the nation in offensive rebounding. Now, as we know Syracuse won't set the world on fire with their rebounding. However, just on size alone, and despite playing the 2-3 Zone, Syracuse should own the boards in this game, both in getting rebounds for transition points, but also on the offensive boards for 2nd chance points. Hughes should have another solid day, and the usual contribution from Dolezaj, Girard, and Boeheim will carry Syracuse to a solid win. Syracuse over Niagra by 23.
This game is an internet only affair on ACC Network Extra at 7:00pm. Since the first playoff game is well decided, this one will have my full attention. Both John and I are in the home offices. We'll see you out there. GO ORANGE.

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North Florida - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're not at this game.
Syracuse handled Oakland in a game that was fairly close until the last four minutes. But a win is a win, especially in the non-conference. Either way, Syracuse heads into their last home game before Christmas. Another chance for a win before having a little bit of a break. The good news is Syracuse should get it done.
This is an interesting matchup for Syracuse at this point in the year. And you wouldn't think of it considering the team they are playing is named North Florida (better than Central and South). Oddly North Florida is the best three point shooting team in the nation in terms of the number of shots made. This is definitely the opposite kind of offensive team than Oakland, which is good as the perimeter defense is a bit better than Syracuse's interior defense. Where Sidibe and Dolezaj were in a bit of foul trouble, North Florida's primary offensive attack will not be in the paint, which should allow both players to stay in the game extended minutes. That helps Syracuse's offense as North Florida's interior defense is really not good. This should allow Syracuse to, in theory, get some decent offensive production from the post and in the paint, which should allow Syracuse's shooting to open up. Not to mention Syracuse should be able to get some transition buckets. Expect another big game from Hughes and Boeheim and Girard. But also expect some higher point outputs from Dolezaj, Sidibe, and probably Guerrier. This is kind of a great matchup for Syracuse as long as Syracuse is able to defend the Osprey shooters. Much like Oakland, this game should be fairly close at the half, but Syracuse should pull away in the 2nd half. Syracuse over North Florida by 18.
Today's game is available nationally on the ACC network at 6:00pm. John should be in the Dome today, unlike Wednesday. I'm in the home office. Here's hoping the crowd noise is a little louder today and GO ORANGE!

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Oakland - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: This one's a gimmie.
Syracuse returns from D.C. after a ten point loss to rival Georgetown after running into the hot hand of their guard. Now Syracuse looks to rebound with what should be an easy affair in the Dome. Syracuse should be in control of this one.
Oakland isn't a big shooting team, but the best shooter is Blake Lampman hitting 35.6% from three. If Syracuse covers him, Oakland will have to rely on their best scorer Xavier Hill-Mais, averaging 18.3ppg. He does his work in the post, which obviously has been a problem for Syracuse on the defensive end in various games this season. If Sidibe and Dolezaj can step up and guard without fouling, and the wings are able to rotate effectively, Syracuse should have an easy win. Syracuse should be able to get easy transition buckets. This game shouldn't stress the team or any fans out. Syracuse over Oakland by 22.
This game is available on ESPN U (never graduate) at 8:00pm. John should be in the Dome. I'm in the home office. Maybe John's 1 game streak of going to losses will be broken. GO ORANGE!

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Syracuse - Georgia Tech Preview

Syracuse students agree: an ACC game in Atlanta in December is new
We're in a brave new world now. In exchange for a Scrooge McDuck vault swimming with ACC Network money, we have to put up with crazy things like opening the season against an ACC foe who happens to be the defending National Champion, and going on the road in December to play another ACC opponent. More conference games. More inventory for the Network. You don't have to like it, you just have to accept it.

That all being said, this is not the situation Jim Boeheim wants to be in with this team on December 7. Traveling to Atlanta for a conference game at this point is not ideal. Syracuse is both young and has seen quite a regression from its junior & sophomore core. The roster is what it is, and the only thing that will help it at this point is more playing and more patience. So, playing at Georgia Tech on December 7 just continues the "throw them into the lion's den" theme of the season.

The Yellow Jackets are going through issues of their own, with a postseason ban looming. But they're not letting that prospect slow them down this year. For Syracuse to have any chance to stay in the game, priority number one is containing guard Michael Devoe; he's averaging 23.8 ppg, shooting 55.4% from the field and 58.6% from three with 29 threes made. Orange guards will have to get a hand in his face from time to time, otherwise he's going to destroy from beyond the arc. However, if the zone expands to pay more attention to Devoe, GTech can get the ball inside to forwards James Banks and Moses Wright, able scorers averaging more than 11 ppg each and reliable rebounding numbers (particularly Banks, with monster numbers on the boards at both ends).

Syracuse has a litany of issues it will have to overcome to stay competitive in this game. Obviously, shooting woes plagued the team in the two games in Brooklyn and at the Iowa game on Tuesday. Joe Girard is human, and Buddy Boeheim has gone cold. Maybe playing in a smaller gym like McCamish Pavilion will help. Syracuse on the offensive end will have to deal with the aforementioned Banks, who has 28 blocks on the year so far. Defensively I thought the zone looked great in the first half against Iowa, particularly in collapsing in when the Hawkeyes got the ball inside and then either being able to block/contest the shot, or cause a turnover. That obviously changed in the second half, whether it was an endurance issue or something else. But they'll have their hands full.

The Orange face their first true road game at maybe the worst time. But they're in the midst of just a terribly difficult stretch of games which began last Tuesday in Brooklyn and concludes next Saturday at Georgetown -- so a win today going into the week off before DC would maybe lessen the blow of this stretch. While it's definitely possible, I see a Yellow Jackets victory by 11.

This game is available on the ACC Network (where available) at noon EST. Brian will be listening from on the road to ultimately stay with some degenerate in Elmira tonight, and I'll be watching from Elmira. You do the math. If the game sucks, reminder that it's championship day in college football so go find some conference title game to watch. Otherwise, GO ORANGE!

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Oklahoma State - Syracuse NIT Season Tip-Off Preview

Syracuse students agree: Nothing like being back in NYC.
The Orange are coming off an impressive offensive performance against Bucknell, despite the usual protest from Jim Boeheim about how the team needs to get better. Any time you beat another team by around 50 points is a good win in my book, no matter who it is. But now the non-conference slate gets serious as Syracuse heads to Brooklyn to take on Oklahoma State in the NIT. Can Syracuse continue their winning offensive output?
Syracuse has seemed to settle into a nice offensive rhythm with Joe Girard settling into the starting point guard position. Dolezaj has been good to great. And Hughes has been very steady in finding the hoop in his last few games. But Oklahoma is no slouch. However, they have literally played nobody so far this season. Oklahoma State is very solid on defense. Syracuse will have to hit some long range shots to open up the paint. Since the Virginia game, Syracuse is making 41.6% of their three point baskets. That should help Syracuse be able to win against the Cowboys. The best player on Okey State is senior guard Lindy Waters III (I guess it's cool to be a III these days). He's averaging 12.2ppg and is hitting 44.8% from three. Syracuse will have to find him behind the arc if they want to have a good defensive effort. This game will really come down to which defense performs better. Will Syracuse's zone adequately cover the three point shooters and cause turnovers, or will Syracuse be stifled on offense by the ball pressure Okey State uses? Syracuse is the best shot blocking team in the nation with the Cowboys right behind them at #2. Blocks and turnovers, and more importantly points off those turnovers, will be the key for either team. But taking a look at history, Syracuse has traditionally been very solid against Big XII teams, perhaps with the only glaring exception as Baylor last season. Based on the fact Syracuse will be in New York, as well as the momentum Syracuse has built lately, and to a lesser degree the size of Syracuse against Okey State, I'm taking Syracuse over the Cowboys by 8.
This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 at 7:00pm. Both JBren and I will be watching, although I'll be out of pocket for most of the game. Enjoy Feast Week, the day before Thanksgiving, and we'll see you out there. GO ORANGE!

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