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Syracuse-Charlotte Preview

Syracuse students agree: The best canvas is one's face.

The Monday preceding Thanksgiving signals one thing: college basketball season officially entering "full swing" status.

Syracuse, never to be one late for the hoops bonanza, has already played and won four contests. As a result, some determinations as to the Orange season -- including some analytical projections forecasting Syracuse's performance in future contests -- can reasonably be made.

This Wednesday at 7 P.M., Syracuse welcomes Charlotte to the Carrier Dome for an out-of-conference tilt. The game will mark the 49ers' third game of the season while the Orange hopes to extend its 20-plus point consecutive victory streak to five.

In an effort to preview this game -- which will hopefully become a regular feature on this notebook -- below appears a "Four Factors" analysis premised on Dean Oliver's significant research and Ken Pomeroy's invaluable contribution.

For an exhaustive explanation of Pomeroy's methodology, this link may be a useful resource.

Offensive Analysis

Four Factors: Offense
TeamEff. FGTurn. %Off. Reb.FT Rate
Charlotte's modus operandi is fairly straightforward: possess the ball and get to the charity stripe.

The 49ers are playing with tempo (as noted below), but has done so in an ABA-style: score lots of buckets and get up and down the floor after made attempts. What results is a team that attempts lots of threes in transition (15th in the nation in 3FGA/FGA) and fails to hit the offensive glass.

It's an interesting attack similar (but faster) than what Syracuse saw against its most recent opponent -- Northeastern.

As for the Orange, Boeheim's latest hardwood edition is fairly par for the course. There hasn't been much difference, at least so far, between the 2005-2006 Orange and the 2005-2007 Orange. Save the fact that Syracuse is hoisting fewer three-point attempts, not much has changed (which isn't particularly surprising given Boeheim's track record).

Defensive Analysis
Four Factors: Defense
TeamEff. FGTurn. %Off. Reb.FT Rate

How bad is Charlotte defensively?

Well, in three defensive categories (effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, and free throw rate), Charlotte ranks in the bottom 100 of the country.

The most glaring aspect of this defensive inefficiency? Charlotte has generated these numbers against North Texas (120 in adjusted offensive efficiency) and Hofstra (214 in adjusted offensive efficiency). That, quite simply, is not going to get it done against a Syracuse squad that turns up the tempo and has generated a respectable effective field goal percentage of 54.3%.

As for the Syracuse defense, it should do a nice job locking down the 49er attack. The Orange has limited opponents to a 40.0 effective field goal percentage and given the fact that Charlotte has only generated an offensive effective field goal percentage of 49.5 against its weak slate of previous opponents, Syracuse should dominate in their 2-3 zone.

There is a tension on the defensive end that will ultimately prove which club wins on Wednesday. Charlotte is gobbled up defensive rebounds against its two opponents; Syracuse has managed to crash the offensive boards. If Syracuse -- through the efforts of Harris, Roberts, and Watkins -- can assert itself on the glass and use its height and athleticism to its advantage, Syracuse should neutralize Charlotte's ability to corral rebounds and alter the effectiveness of the Orange offense.

The other area to watch is whether Syracuse can force Charlotte into turnovers. Syracuse has made a living this year getting out in transition through opponent turnovers. What has resulted is the Orange playing at a relatively high tempo/pace.

Charlotte has also been playing at a high tempo (about 74 possession per contest), yet has done so yielding buckets and possessing the basketball. With Charlotte managing to take care of the basketball, Syracuse's transition game may be stifled. Thus, a careful eye should be trained toward the top of the Orange zone and how wing players like Paul Harris manage to get their hands into passing lanes, creating turnovers and easy basket opportunities.

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