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Syracuse - Miami Preview

Syracuse students agree: Do or die time. Again.
Syracuse had a winable home game against NC State on Wednesday, but they didn't get the job done. They missed shots, didn't rebound, and most importantly they did not defend the 3 point line. Now Syracuse heads to Miami to take on a 'Caines team that is playing well, but is only slightly better in the standings than Syracuse. However, they seem to be playing a lot better than the Orange right now, even after a narrow loss to Virginia. Syracuse is still 4th in the ACC in 3 point defense, but again the last two games have been dreadful, allowing Wake to rattle off a bunch despite Syracuse winning, but it caught up to Syracuse allowing six 3 point buckets in the 2nd half from one player alone. Despite being young and able to play 40 minutes, it seems like the depth issues have caught up with the Orange. Not that they can't play the 40 minutes just fine, because they can. I just mean in terms of player injuries and fouls. There just aren't more players able to come in. But the point is, Syracuse hasn't been defending as well lately (their major strength) as they have been, which allowed NC State to win. Junior Guard Anthony Lawrence II is shooting 46.3% from 3 this season. Syracuse must find him if they want to try and win the game. Interestingly, Miami only averages about 5.5 ppg more than the Orange, so it isn't like Miami has been lighting up the scoreboard either. That being said, Miami is at home, and despite having a better offense lately for Syracuse, I have no faith that they can get it done on the road at this point in the season. Chukwu tweaked his back on the last game and Sidibe isn't a reliable scorer as of yet either. I just think there are way too many factors favoring Miami. I think the Hurricanes win this one by nine. This game is available nationally on CBS at 12:00pm. John is in the home office. I'm probably not going to be on the Tweets for this one, so tune to John for your 30 ----> Full fix. GO ORANGE!

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NC State - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse has to defend the home court.
Syracuse did what they had to do. They beat Wake Forest on Sunday. Now another ACC bubble team comes in with the NC State Wolfpack. They have been streaky as of late, earning a huge win against UNC on the road, and beating Notre Dame, before losing to VTech and then UNC. Syracuse, on the other hand, is on a two game win streak, looking to make it three. Syracuse will need to do a couple things. You know, the answer first is to rebound the ball well. Syracuse cannot afford to give teams extra possessions when points are at a premium for the Orange. But they also need to stop the Big Men and drive to the basket in this game. Defending the paint will be key for Syracuse. NC State isn't a great shooting team from outside the arc. I would label them as fair. That means, the majority of points for NC State come off of easier baskets by their center, and from their leading scorer Allerik Freeman. A grad transfer, he leads the Wolfpack in scoring, mostly from drives to the basket. The 2-3 needs to be active and make easy shots more difficult and they need to gobble up rebounds. If Syracuse is able to do that, Syracuse should win this game that they are surprisingly (although not that surprisingly as they are at home) favored to win this game. Syracuse needs to keep positive contributions from Chukwu going, as well as be ever conscious of the foul situation for each player on the floor. Syracuse may have Sidibe available tonight, and possibly Moyer, but they are no guarantee. Easy buckets when they are available, and rebounding will be key, just like a lot of games this season. But I think this game will actually come down to the Syracuse's defense and their ability to make stops and get rebounds, rather than just if they can somehow score more points than the other team. Deep, but true. Anyway, I'm taking the Orange at home against a team they should be able to handle. Syracuse over NC State by 6. This game is available regionally at 9:00pm. Check your local listings here. If you aren't blacked out, you can stream on WatchESPN, or on TheACC.com here for anyone. No blackout. John is in the Dome. I'll be in the past as this game isn't on TV in Massachusetts this evening. GO ORANGE!

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Picture of coaching staff who made it to the end of the game wearing their jackets
Where to start? Well, OK, Syracuse won. I guess that mention trumps everything else. But this wasn't exactly a pretty win. I suppose the Selection Committee doesn't look at pretty vs. ugly, so, who cares? Still, how Syracuse beat Wake Forest 78-70 was both impressive and surprising, considering what the Orange had to work with. Prior to the game, it was announced that Matthew Moyer would not be available, with his ankle injury hurting him too much. We heard Bourama Sidibe would be available if necessary. So, walking into the Dome, we contemplated the possibility of a 5-man rotation which, per the typical rules of the game, wouldn't be a rotation. As it happened, Bourama played 17 big minutes off the bench, and walk-on-turned-scholarship-player Braedon Bayer clocked four. Everything Coach Boeheim was able to get out of these seven players on Sunday culminated in that eight-point win.

  • Where would this team be without Tyus Battle? For all of the shortfalls in his game (which, think about it, he hasn't hit his ceiling yet!!), he does some special things out there to put up stats. His 34 points Sunday led the team -- all players -- and was a personal best at the Carrier Dome. He was 10-18 from the floor, including 3-4 from three, while also grabbing four rebounds, dishing four assists, and registering a steal. He's also one of Syracuse's iron men (as he has been for most games) playing all 40 minutes.
  • Oshae Brissett registered the team's only double-double, with 15 points and ten rebounds. Those points didn't come easy though: 3-11 from the floor and 1-4 from three. It was his 8-10 from the line that accounted for most of his points. Iron man minutes. Oshae is still one of my favorite players on the team and while he sometimes doesn't play like it, I have to often remind myself that he's a freshman and has such a potential to dominate in future seasons.
  • Frank Howard is such an enigma. On the one hand, he's far and away improved from last year, and on the whole plays great with pretty consistent double-digit scoring games; on the other hand, he still makes a lot of mistakes and is susceptible to falling into horrible shooting ruts. On Sunday, he played all 40 minutes, scored twelve points, nine assists, and five steals. Solid. But he was 4-10 from the line. As a team, Syracuse was 26-39 from the line.
  • That stat's not great. But, consider the 39 attempts -- 39! The Orange was more active on offense than that last game at the Dome (vs. UVA) but not quite as active as last Monday at Louisville. Still though, it wasn't just standing around, passing around the perimeter, and taking a crappy long shot at the end of the shot clock; it was good ball movement, good moving around, and as evidenced by the 39 free throw attempts a lot of driving to the basket. So, had Syracuse been just a little better at the line, I think the perception of this win would've been a lot better -- Wake wouldn't have gotten the score as close as they did in the waning minutes of the game, and Syracuse would have been viewed as dominating the game.
  • Of course, the other thing that aided that "holy crap how is Wake making a game of this" feel was their out of control scoring from three. In the first half, Wake was 1-10 from three -- 10%! -- and that was on a heave as the first half clock expired. Then, about halfway through the second half, Wake players Mitchell Wilbekin and Bryant Crawford simply went off. They, along with Keyshawn Woods (with one) rattled off six consecutive threes, which helped Wake come to within two points with 4:24 to go. From there on out, Syracuse was just trying to create a cushion. Thankfully, they did.
And so, Syracuse avoids a bad loss at home. I was starting to have flashbacks to the Notre Dame game from early January, so I'm very glad the same result and disappointment didn't materialize. With another couple healthy scholarship players in the rotation, Syracuse would certainly have the depth and abilities to be a tournament team, and one that could maybe go far. But that lack of depth, more than anything, is going to doom the Orange a month from now.

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Wake Forest - Syracuse Preview w/ some Lacrosse Talk

Syracuse students agree: lacrosse & basketball in the same weekend is fun!

Wake Forest comes to the Carrier Dome on Sunday for an ACC basketball game. But before then, Saturday is the season opener for the men's lacrosse team, with a tilt against Interstate-81 rival Binghamton. So I'll talk about that first.

The biggest question as we start the lax season is, how much did the mumps epidemic this fall impact the ability of the team to adequately prepare for the season? Honestly, I'm expecting the answer to be minimally to none. These are elite college athletes. They know how to play. Any missed practice/scrimmage time in the fall would only affect team cohesiveness -- something they've no doubt been able to figure out with practices and scrimmages this spring. Instead, let's focus on the relative youth of this team. While there are only a handful of true seniors and redshirt seniors, they're a solid core around which this team can build. Plus, despite what a certain portion of the fan base keeps clamoring, John Desko is a good coach. Binghamton is primed to have a great season, but there's no real reason to think Syracuse would lose to the Bearcats. Let's just hope Syracuse can win with better than a one-goal lead, to buck last year's trend. The game is at 1:00pm EST and is available internet-only on ACC Network Extra beginning two minutes after reality. If you're not heading up to the Dome, check out the "live" stream or catch me on the tweets.

Starting around 3:30pm, the Carrier Dome staff will begin the task they do oh-so-well: converting the field from lacrosse to basketball, with plenty of time for Sunday's 1:00pm tip against Wake Forest. At 9-15 on the season, 2-10 in ACC play, Wake is having a rough go of it this season. But if you look at some team stats, without looking at records or knowing anything about these teams, you might think Wake is the better team on paper. Chalk that up to the abysmal Orange offense. However, that offense experienced a resurrection on Monday against Louisville -- and with the rest of the week off since then, I will be cautiously optimistic about another great offensive showing. If there's a Demon Deacon poised to kill Syracuse, it's likely Bryant Crawford, who doesn't shy away from attempting threes. He's shooting that at a 36.4% clip this season, so even if he gets hot, the Orange will still need to contain the others with that shut down zone defense, and play smart on the other end. Tyus Battle and Frank Howard played great against the Cardinals, and will need to continue to carry this team on their backs. It's a short (if even existent) bench for Jim Boeheim, so avoidance of further injuries, or foul trouble, is essential to victory. Brian's shielding his pasty white skin from the rays in the DR but picks Syracuse by eight; I'll be in the Dome and pick Syracuse by eleven. The game's at 1:00pm on the ACC Network, so check out your local affiliates here. Glad I'll be in the Dome to once again avoid my local affiliate's standard definition feed in 2018.

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Syracuse - Louisville Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse must start winning games.
Syracuse heads to L'ville to take on the the Cards. Syracuse played a very good team in Virginia on Saturday. But they somehow played them very close at Virginia, and just laid a stinker at home. Syracuse needs some (any) production from the 5 spot besides when Dolezaj is in the spot. Chukwu needs to rebound, but really he needs to score. Syracuse obviously needs points, and to get nothing from the two centers is a sure fire way to lose a game. Syracuse needs to play defense and rebound. Otherwise, Syracuse is going to lose big. I just don't trust this team can score though. And being on the road makes it even worse. I'm taking L'ville by 14. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. Both John and I are in the home office. See you out there.

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Syracuse - Georgia Tech Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse needs another win on the road, even shorthanded.
Syracuse heads to Atlanta, with fewer players than the last game. Syracuse has 6 healthy scholarship players, so strap in folks, because this is going to be interesting win or lose. But really, this game will be one in the low post. Syracuse needs to stop Ben Lammers, and the other GTech big men from scoring. If Syracuse can play solid defense, like they have been all season, they should be able to win this one, and get enough points scoring to win a nice road victory. If Lammers is able to consistently score from inside the paint or closer, Syracuse is going to have a tough day as well know this team isn't really built to come back from behind. Good news is Matthew Moyer appears ready to play, so that's the good news. But really, the game rests on Chukwu and Sidibe blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. It wouldn't hurt of Dolezaj grabbed a bunch as well. Syracuse needs to drive the ball and get GTech in some foul trouble, then take advantage. Frank Howard has been a lot better with turnovers after the week layoff they had to practice, and I think that should continue in this one. I like Syracuse, but in a very tight one. I'm taking Syracuse on the road by 5. This game is available regionally at 8:00pm. Check your listings here. Everyone else is internet only (like me). Both John and I are on the Tweets tonight. We'll see you out there. GO ORANGE!

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Syracuse - Pittsburgh Preview

Syracuse students agree: Sweeping Pitt would be great.
Syracuse had a week off and after working in practice Syracuse played their best offensive game of the season against Boston College in the Dome. Syracuse now tries to keep the winning streak alive as they travel to The Pete to take on Pittsburgh. Traditionally The Pete has been a tough place to play for opposing teams, but Syracuse was the team that got the first win there, Tyler Ennis daggered the hearts of Pitt fans, and Pittsburgh is a garbage fire on offense this season. Syracuse has one job and one job they need to do to win. That is stop Parker Stewart from hitting a ton of 3 pointers. Syracuse let him get loose and Pittsburgh had a lead in the Dome. But then Boeheim ripped his jacked off and ripped into his players and the defense tightened. They were able to stop Pittsburgh for virtually the last ten minutes of the game. Syracuse will need to do the same if they want to win at Pittsburgh. SU held Pitt to 45 points in the last game, and nothing I've seen from either team should change that too much. Syracuse just need to again rebound. The interesting question is if Matt Moyer has recovered from his sprained ankle he suffered Wednesday in the Boston College game. An even lighter bench, and a whistle happy crew in stripes could be disastrous for Syracuse. Syracuse needs to be smart on defense and stay out of foul trouble. If they can, Syracuse should have a good day. The depth is concerning, but not enough for me to pick Pittsburgh in this. I'm taking the Orange by 13. This game is available regionally at 4:00pm. Check your local listings here. WatchESPN for everyone else. As always, GO ORANGE!

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Boston College - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: BC sucks!
Syracuse takes on old foe in Boston College. The Orange are favored in this game. Weirdly, both these teams basically use their starting 5 and not much else. Syracuse will look to guard the two big shooters on BC, Nik Popovic and Steffon Mitchell. They'll guard them tight, hoping Boston College can't do much on the inside, a play they tried to employ against VTech and Pittsburgh, with Pittsburgh only succeeding last in the 2nd half. Either way, we know the story by now. This is the easiest year for previews in a while. Syracuse's defense will do it's job. If Syracuse can rebound the ball, they should win this one. I like SU to go off in the 2nd half and get on a few mini-scoring runs. They should be tight with BC until about midway through the 2nd. Then see the shooters for Syracuse get hot, BC in a little bit of foul trouble, and Syracuse should have a pretty good day in a must win for the Orange. I'm taking them by 10. This game is available nationally on The U at 7:00pm. Also available on WatchESPN. John is in the Dome. I'm at home. Let's Go Orange, and BC SUCKS AND ALWAYS WILL!

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