Syracuse students agree: ACC deez nuts
As most of you know, the basketball previews here on Orange::44 are typically a paragraph long and include some tidbits on Syracuse's opponent, a few players to watch on that team, the keys to victory for the Orange, and the predicted margin of the final score.
This one will be slightly different.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack, from the "powerhouse" ACC, is neither a rival nor a regular foe of Syracuse. In fact, their last matchup was several years ago in the Carrier Dome, where the Wolfpack beat the Orange. But a fateful recruiting decision in 2001 eventually resulted in great things for the Orange, and not so great things for the Wolfpack.
In putting together his 2001-2002 recruiting class, Jim Boeheim was looking at Julius Hodge. A New York City hooper, this was prime recruiting area for the Orange, and Hodge came highly touted, winning many awards, recognitions, and accolades. Syracuse wanted him. But it turns out he didn't want Syracuse. He instead signed with NC State at the last minute, leaving Boeheim & Co. to scramble to sign a player. Along on the radar comes a tall lanky kid out of Philadelphia. You may have heard of him: Hakim Warrick. Of course, we all know how his story with the Orange ends: an integral part of the 2003 National Championship, the two most memorable plays in Syracuse history (i.e. "The Block" and "The Texas T-Bag"), the 19th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies, and still in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns.
Hodge, on the other hand, had an okay career for a "meh" NC State team, was drafted 20th in the 2005 NBA Draft (ha!) and now balls it up in Australia. Maybe.
So it's with this backdrop that we take a look at this evening's matchup. The Wolfpack is coming off a drubbing against Wisconsin, 87-48. At 4-2 this season, they have tasted the sourness of defeat. So another one won't be too much of a shock. They're a rather young team with freshman Lorenzo Brown and sophomore Scott Wood their leading scorers. Harking back to Jim Boeheim's mantra of "It's not who you play, but how you play," this is really one of those games where they Orange need to step up and show they're the better team. On paper they sure are, but paper doesn't win basketball games. It could be easy for the team to say "NC State just lost by 39 points, they suck, I'm excited about playing Michigan State at MSG on Tuesday Ooo yea that's hot!" It could be easy for them to say that. But if I know anything about Jim Boeheim, it's that he WILL NOT let this team say that. Or think that. Or play that way. The Cuse plays NC State on the Deuce tonight at 5:15 (or 5:30?) and so in honor of the Deuce, I'm picking Syracuse to again win by 20.