Syracuse students agree: We meet again Connecticut.
Syracuse has won four games in a row against Connecticut in the Big East Tournament, including 2006's overtime game when Connecticut was ranked #1 in the country, and the last being the famous six overtime game. Syracuse also won in their one meeting during the regular season in Hartford in the XL Center. But none of that matters. Nor does the fact that Syracuse is ranked higher in this game in both rankings and seeding. Rest assured, this game will be another nail biter and go down to the wire. Kemba Walker, despite not being voted the league's best player, is like player 1a. And he has been sensational in the Big East Tournament, averaging 26ppg. Not to mention he was an assassin on the last shot against Pittsburgh. Earlier in the year he had his worst game against Syracuse, only gaining eight points shooting 3-14 from the floor. He will do better in this game, but historically he has not played that well against Syracuse in his career. Regardless, he has been on his game and UConn will be taking shots from behind the arc. Syracuse righted their season by beating UConn in Hartford. Since then, Syracuse's defense has been much better and more active. Additionally, Scoop Jardine has broken out of his funk. While St. John's caused a lot of turnovers against Syracuse, that is the nature of their defense. It pressures and harasses. UConn does not pressure as much, therefore turnovers should not be as much of a factor for Syracuse. SU only had nine turnovers in Hartford. The key to this game will be rebounding for Syracuse, and keeping Kemba Walker from getting easy shots in the lane. The zone will help that somewhat, as it will force UConn to pass into the lane and then pass out. Syracuse also needs to try and limit the Connecticut transition game. Limiting easy baskets and trying to contest every shot is very key in the Big East Tournament. As for Syracuse, Triche's second half yesterday put most minds at ease after a horrific first half. Scoop Jardine staying out of foul trouble early and being on the floor with Triche is clearly a good combination. And finally, staying active and in motion on the offensive end to continue scoring is a must. Fab Melo had a career high 12 points against St. John's. I'm not banking on that tonight, but it would be a bonus. Roscoe Smith, injured and received eight stitches from an elbow to the face versus Pittsburgh, should be playing tonight for the record. Syracuse focused so much on Walker in their last meeting Jeremy Lamb, a freshman, had a ridiculous 22 points. Watch and see if Syracuse covers him extra tight allowing Walker to get some more open looks. This game is a coin flip essentially and anything can happen in MSG, including multiple overtimes. This game is practically impossible to predict. I don't buy that Walker or UConn will be flat or tired because this is their fourth game in four days. That argument should be void these days. But, because Syracuse won earlier in the year, and because they are playing so well right now, I'll just go with the fact UConn's luck may be out for this BET and say Syracuse will win this one by five.