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Kansas - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR No Hot Hand

I traveled to Miami for this game, because I live in a place nothing like Miami.

As you can tell from the picture from my seat, this game wasn't very well attended. Syracuse and Kansas played on Saturday at the Hoophall Miami Invitational at AmericanAirlines Arena (home of the Heat) in just the second rematch of the 2003 National Championship. Geno Thorpe left the program prior to this game, and Kansas entered as the #2 team in the country, so the deck was already stacked against Syracuse. But I figured, hell, maybe some magic will happen. My sister, brother-in-law, and I went to Fado for the Syracuse Alumni Association pregame party (which was very well attended -- maybe too much so) then made our way to the game. Lots of Syracuse fans, lots of Kansas fans, and yet still lots of empty seats. Right off the bat, the officials called a super tight game. Annoyingly tight. But at least it was both ways. Unfortunately that left Syracuse in early foul trouble, particularly with Frank Howard picking up a few early fouls. With Thorpe gone, this gave Howard Washington some minutes. Despite Syracuse finding itself down significant amounts several times in the game, the Orange also showed some grit and determination in battling back. None of these efforts got them close enough, though, with Syracuse ultimately losing 76-60.

  • Tyus Battle lead the way for Syracuse offensively, with 22 points on 7-20 shooting (2-11 from three) playing all 40 minutes. Think those shooting numbers are abysmal? Well, the team wasn't any better: 18-56 for 32.1%.
  • The shooting numbers would have been worse had Syracuse not had a few awesome runs in the second half; first half shooting was 5-23, while second half improved to 13-33. Making those numbers worse was the inability for any shooter to get a three to fall: 6-27 for 22.2% on the game. Look, at some point, you just need to recognize that the three isn't working, and take a different shot. This, as much as anything, prevented Syracuse from truly being competitive in this game.
  • Oshae Brissett also played all 40 minutes and scored 15 points. He was also great on the defensive glass, grabbing eight rebounds there for a total of nine. I feel like he gets better every game with more experience, and he'll be such a force as the season goes on.
  • Despite being somewhat limited in minutes due to foul trouble, Frank Howard still played well, with 15 points and seven assists. It's great to see how he's matured as a player and a team leader since last year, and the fouls that got him in trouble early are not something he should be frustrated over considering the officials were calling things so tight. That was still great production from Frank in 32 minutes.
  • Matthew Moyer continues his struggles. In 17 minutes, he failed to score -- or even attempt a shot -- while missing several assignments on defense. I really just don't know what to say about Moyer. I had such high hopes for him, that his redshirt year last year would allow him to practice with the talent we had, learn the program, and hit the floor running this year. So far, not so much.
  • Paschal Chukwu might not be the liability at the line we thought he was. He somehow hit his first foul shots of the season (of his career?) by going 5-10 from the line. He only hit one shot from the field, but it should have been another, had he been able to throw down the hammer on a dunk. Instead, he totally bricked, "hung" on the rim, and was called for a bullshit technical. Such was this game.
  • Kansas, as several teams tend to do against Syracuse, shot the lights out of the ball. 49.1% for the game, and 35.5% from three. Devonte Graham was the big shooting nemesis, going 7-13 from three for a total of 35 points. As you hear a million times, the 2-3 zone leaves the defense susceptible to the 3-point shot, and Graham just picked his spots and put them up. With the zone, you live with that, as long as the rest of the zone works the way it should. On Saturday, Syracuse couldn't defend the backdoor cuts, the baseline runs, and the lobs. A more experienced front court might be able to do that; it certainly wasn't lack of size.
  • I have a disdain for a lot of opposing fan bases, and antics they pull during the game, but one of the things I've really learned to hate over the years was "Rock Chalk Jayhawk." And sitting at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday night, knowing that chant was inevitable, was excruciating. And hearing it, even worse.
  • That said, I had the stereotypical bad Syracuse fan sitting 2 seats away from me (with an empty seat between us). He was razzing a Kansas fan near us the entire game. His biggest argument was "You're the best Big-12 team, playing the #9 ACC team. You should be beating us by a lot more." First, not true. Second, if that's the best you've got, keep your fucking mouth shut. This Kansas fan, to his credit, wasn't giving back shit, wasn't starting shit, and quite frankly I felt bad for him. Also, Syracuse fan was wearing an orange bucket hat. So he had that going for him.
I stayed for the 2nd game of the night, Miami vs. Princeton. There were maybe 500 people in the arena at tipoff (because Princeton doesn't travel, and Miami fans were a little preoccupied at 8pm on Saturday night but in retrospect probably would have preferred to see a blowout basketball game). We left at halftime of that game, which was quite a snoozer. At any rate, I'm glad I made the trip to Miami. I got to see some friends, went to a South Beach nightclub, visited some local breweries, and Sunday night went back to the arena for Heat vs. Warriors. Sure, I didn't see Syracuse win. But that's not what the weekend was about. If it was, I wouldn't have gone. Despite the fact that there is no JBren Curse on away games, the fact of the matter is I haven't attended a non-Dome Syracuse win in several years. Off the top of my head, I can't even think of the last non-Dome win I attended. I'll have to consult the archives at some point. But don't worry, I won't be at MSG for the UConn game, and I probably won't go to DC for the Georgetown game.

Anyway, Miami is fun. Weather's nice. Go there sometime if you've never been.

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Syracuse - UConn Jimmy V Classic Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse always needs to beat UConn.
Syracuse takes on the rival Connecticut UConn Huskies in the world's most famous arena tonight. A series that should be played every year, Syracuse looks to get back to winning streak with UConn (not UCONN). Both teams are light on depth. A high paced game only benefits Syracuse if they are scoring in transition. Otherwise, it would be the enemy of both. Both teams play their starting five players for a majority, if not all of the 40 minutes. Syracuse has to worry about Jalen Adams, averaging 19.4ppg and leading the team in assists, and Christian Vital, who basically won the game for UConn against Monmouth in overtime recently. But Syracuse also can't sleep on Forward Terry Larrier, who leads the team in 3 point shooting, at 41.7%. If Syracuse is able to defend well, and get points off missed shots in transition, as well as score at the other end, Syracuse should pull away in this game. Syracuse has played tougher teams than UConn and seemed to handle them better than the cupcakes UConn has played. But all that said, Syracuse and UConn always play each other tight, no matter how good each team is. This game will probably be tight. Syracuse needs to not worry about jacking up shots, even if UConn does (and they will). Syracuse needs to play their game and literally stay in their lane. Syracuse needs to drive in the paint and draw fouls or get to the rim. Syracuse has a size advantage over UConn, something that was never really the case historically. Syracuse has a chance to really stifle UConn and only make them take mostly jump shots. Syracuse has to stay active, but also look for the easy baskets or fouls where they can. If Syracuse can get UConn in foul trouble, this game should be over quick. Because it's a pretty short bench for Kevin Ollie. Syracuse has the advantage in a lot of categories, but if UConn can't miss, Syracuse is in trouble. Syracuse needs to find the shooters and cover. If they do, Syracuse will have a great night in the Garden. I'm taking the Orange by 8. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 9:00pm* (*probably like 9:22). It's like a Big East Tournament game, but it's December. And it only matters for resume purposes. UConn... U SUCK! LET'S GO ORANGE!

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Syracuse - Kansas HoopHall Miami Invitational Preview

Syracuse students agree: It would be a huge resume builder to beat Kansas.
Syracuse (and John) are in Miami to see if SU can earn a huge early season win and beat #2 Kansas. Syracuse The last time these two teams played was in 2008 in an early season Tournament. Syracuse beat Kansas 89 to 81. But we all remember the 2003 NCAA Championship and The Block, as the best game Syracuse played against Kansas. Either way, it's 2017 now, and Syracuse is taking on the #2 team in the nation. They are a high powered offense, averaging 94.5 points per game. For contrast, Syracuse is only averaging 74.3 points. But that being said, Syracuse's defense is playing well, limiting opponents to only 59.6 points per game. Syracuse should limit Kansas to below their average. However, Syracuse's shooting woes will probably be exposed a little more in this game. Syracuse was dreadful from behind the arc against Maryland. And frankly, I don't mind that Syracuse is a drive first team. That allows for better passing opportunities for scores, or to rack up fouls. But Syracuse still has to make some. Tyus Battle hit the big 3 in the corner against Maryland when they had to., but that was a rare exception in this game. Syracuse will have to consistently score on offense, and get easy buckets in transition if they want to beat Kansas. I think they will give it a good game, and the defense will be strong, but I think Kansas will probably be just a bit too good today for the Orange. I'm taking Kansas over Syracuse by eight. This game will be available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 5:30pm. John will be reporting live in the stadium, so check out @JBren. I'll be in the home office. I hope Syracuse pulls the upset, but if not, have some fun anyway. Especially if you made the trip. GO ORANGE! 

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Maryland - Syracuse ACC/Big Ten Challenge Preview

Syracuse students agree: Beating Maryland is satisfying.
Syracuse takes on Maryland in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge again. The last time these teams played each other was 2014 as ACC Conference opponents. Then Maryland bolted for the Big Ten. Syracuse won that hard fought game by 2 points. Now Maryland heads to the Carrier Dome. The good news is Tyus Battle appears to be ready to play. He was on fire from mid-range against Toledo before falling hard and tweaking his back, when he did not return. Both Maryland and Syracuse are good rebounding teams, but Syracuse should have the slight edge. However, the last game found both SU big men in big time foul trouble. That didn't end up being a problem against Toledo, who still ran into tough shooting against the 2-3 Zone. Maryland could find a little more success. Guard Anthony Cowan, who is hitting 49% from the floor, while Preseason All-Big Ten selection Forward Justin Jackson can also do some damage. I think both offenses are pretty good and fairly equal. The difference in this game will be which team can rebound and which defense plays better. If Syracuse is able to get blocks without fouling, and get some transition buckets, Syracuse should enjoy a fairly easy cruise to another win against the Big Ten. If Syracuse allows easy buckets, they are in trouble. Because Syracuse is at home, playing well lately, and it appears Tyus Battle is going to play, I'm giving the edge to Syracuse. And I'm also thinking that some of the tick tack fouls that were called on Syracuse in the last game won't be called with a (I'm assuming) mostly veteran ref crew (unlike the last game). I'm taking the Orange by 14. This game is available on ESPN 2 / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. John will be in the Dome. I'm in the home office. The Big Ten sucks and LET'S GO ORANGE!

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Boston College Quick Predictions

Did you know BC sucks and always will?
Another lost season is almost in the books. Syracuse can't possibly get a Bowl Game. So nothing left to play for but pride and the Seniors in their last game in the Carrier Dome. Can Syracuse play well enough to get one last win and beat rival Boston College yet again?
Syracuse is listing Eric Dungey as Out for this game. With Eric Dungey in, Syracuse has a real shot to tear up BC, as Eric and the receivers can put points on the board. But he is out, which leaves the options as a Backup QB or a 3rd String QB to get the job done. Boston College isn't a big explosive offensive team. But they do have an excellent freshman RB in AJ Dillon. The real problem with Mahoney or Culpepper is turnovers. Both had zero TDs and each had 2 INTs versus Louisville. Against Wake, Mahoney had 3 TDs but 2 INTs. Syracuse can't win if they turn the ball over. Especially when you are losing so much going from mobile Eric Dungey to anyone else. Syracuse just doesn't play well offensively if Eric Dungey isn't there. And next year it may be Dungey or DeVito that will lead Syracuse to an 8 win season. I don't know. But I do know, today, the likelihood of Syracuse beating Boston College without Eric Dungey at QB is very low. I've seen stranger things happen with a Syracuse-BC game (2004), but not many, and not for a long time. BC shouldn't blow up Syracuse like Louisville did, but they will win. Sadly BC over Syracuse 38 to 24.
This game is available regionally on the ACC Network at 12:30pm. Check your local listings here. If not on TV where you are, the game will be on ACC Network Extra (WatchESPN). Try to enjoy this with some holiday leftovers. John will be in the Dome. I'll be in the home office. So here's to the Outhouse on the Hill...

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Toledo - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: You can't lose at home to Toledo.
Syracuse continues the homestand with MAC team Toledo Rockets. The Orange have handled the easy teams they have faced so far. But Toledo is probably the best team that Syracuse has faced so far. Can the Orange avoid a big upset?
Jaelan Sanford is the leader of this Toledo team, averaging 23.3ppg, getting in the lane and to the bucket. He's not going to burn Syracuse from outside though. Toledo isn't a huge three point shooting team. Syracuse has the advantage playing the 2-3 Zone, clogging the lane and making Toledo take long and mid-range jump shots. While Toledo has been pretty careful with the ball, look for Toledo to get stuck in the lane and on passes back out once progress is stopped, Syracuse will be able to pick some off. This match up favors Syracuse in almost every category. And Syracuse has really picked up the defensive intensity in the last couple of games, as you can see the newer players start to gel a little more in that Zone. Along with the shot blocking. I'm taking the Orange over the Rockets by 19.
This game is available on the ACC Digital Network Extra at 7:00pm. From all of us here, enjoy your Thanksgiving and stay safe out there. 

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Oakland - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Keep the undefeated thing going.
Syracuse easily handled Texas Southern on Saturday night. A welcome reprieve from whatever happened on that football field in Louisville. And Syracuse's basketball rolls on. This time taking on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.
Oakland is coming off a loss to Toledo on the road, so they head east to take on Syracuse, one of the toughest games on their schedule. They had to face Kansas next, so compared to them, Syracuse isn't as tough a test as the could be facing this early in the year. Their leading scorer is Kendrick Nunn, who previously was on Illinois before being booted due to a battery charge. Either way, he can play basketball however, as he is currently averaging 28 points per game on 46.3% shooting from the field. He is the main offensive threat Syracuse must worry about. Syracuse will have to be active in the zone and clog up the lane to  stop Oakland. But the Horizon League co-champs will have to score a lot if they want to beat Syracuse. Look for the Orange to again get out in transition and score buckets off rebounds. Tyus Battle has been big for the Orange, but Geno Thorpe has come alive as of late. Look for the combination of those two to carry the day again versus Oakland. I like the Orange obviously, but I think they'll win today as well. Syracuse by 23.
This is another internet only affair, tipping at 7:00pm on the ACC Network Extra (WatchESPN). I will again be out of pocket, but John will be watching. Go Orange!

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Louisville Quick Predictions

Syracuse has to beat the bird if they want to Bowl.
The Orange head to Louisville to take on the Cardinals of Louisville. Syracuse is in desperate need of a win. With their backs to the wall, can Syracuse pull off their first road win of the season?
Syracuse heads to Louisville in desperate need of a win. And Louisville isn't playing their best ball either. Louisville also lost to Wake Forest, but they were also smoked by BC. So they are vulnerable, but the fact that defending Heisman winner Lamar Jackson has still been sensational this season. Eric Dungey is still doubtful. Syracuse hasn't won on the road. The Orange don't have any momentum to perhaps win a game. While I have faith Syracuse isn't a terrible football team, they just don't have any of the magic ingredients to earn an upset on the road. I'm taking Louisville and the end of Bowl hopes for this season, 42 to 24.
This game is available on ESPN U, The U, at 3:30pm. Both John and I should be in the home offices so we'll see you out there. Because misery loves company.

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