Syracuse students agree: The opening of the league is exciting.
Syracuse opens Big East play against Seton Hall. Normally that wouldn't be cause for alarm, except that the last time they visited the Carrier Dome they simply put a wallop on the Orange. Jeremy Hazell has graduated, leaving a lot of the points they scored in that game off the board. Should we still be worried?
It is the Big East after all. As the years have proven, it is certainly not unheard of to have an early upset in league play. Or late. Or in the middle. Either way, #1 Syracuse cannot be lazy in this game. Herb Pope returns, and when not fighting with Eric Devendorf, he is a very good low post player. He gets double-doubles and will probably be the leading rebounder in this game. He is also good at getting his own rebound and earning second chance points for himself. Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Kieta will have their hands full in trying to contain the leaner and more agile Pope (Protestants all fear this new Pope). While Hazell is gone, freshman Aaron Crosby is shooting 41.8% from behind the arc. And Fuquan Edwin adds 14ppg as well. This is a team that when taken lightly will burn you. But looking at their resume, their best win may be against Virginia Commonwealth. They have lost to Northwestern as their only loss, on neutral turf. And played the likes of Yale, Dayton, Wake Forrest, and Auburn. Their schedule doesn't impress me. Syracuse, having played #9 Florida, as well as NC State on the road, and the NIT in New York, is statistically a better scoring, rebounding, and assisting team. Not to mention that they are way deeper than the six to seven players Seton Hall uses regularly. Herb Pope will rebound like a beast, but the rest of the team will have to contend with offensive possessions against a 2-3 zone that they will not find as much success shooting over. On top of that, Syracuse is hungry for revenge from last season, is more capable of big runs and transition baskets, and will not allow open shooters, nor are they as complacent as last year. This has the makings of a big win for the Orange to star their conference slate right. I think the Orange do win this game at home against the nuisance from New Jersey. I'm taking the Orange by 17.
This game will be broadcast in Upstate New York on TWCS and should be available elsewhere on SNY. It will also be shown on ESPN 3 (Watch ESPN) at 7:00pm. John and I will be in the Dome tonight so look for the occasional sassy tweet. Also, I apologize in advance to any readers from New Jersey, but you have to expect some Jersey slander when playing a team from there. It's the way Otto intended.