Syracuse students agree: The national media are gonna hype up the road angle.
Syracuse is now the #1 team in the nation. While Syracuse has traveled away from the Carrier Dome to New York City, this will be their first true road game, heading to future ACC opponent NC State down in the heart of ACC country. Can Syracuse stay undefeated and #1?
The short answer is yes. Syracuse takes on an NC State team that isn't all that impressive. They beat teams like Elon and Morehead State and lost to Stanford and Vanderbilt. They have two good players. Their best shooter is guard Scott Wood, hitting 56.8% from behind the arc. He is their only long range threat however. They will need to get the ball to forward CJ Leslie, averaging 12.8 points and who is capable of playing either forward positions. With only one legitimate outside shooting threat, Syracuse will concentrate on covering Wood from outside the arc. That means that the ball will be passed into the interior, where Syracuse will swarm the ball and make it difficult for NC State to score. Leslie will get some interior scoring opportunities, but will find it difficult working against the zone, a defense NC State doesn't usually play against. Making it more difficult is that the zone will not be stretched too badly with no real outside threat. If Syracuse covers Wood well, and they are able to rebound the ball well, this will be an easy game for Syracuse despite the hyped up NC State fans and team gunning for #1. If Syracuse prevents second chance points and easy buckets for the Wolfpack, this game will be all Orange. I think they do win by 12.
This game will be on ESPN 2 at 6:30pm, a delightful national broadcast. It will be the last major non-conference opponent before the conference slate, so this will be a fun test before the Big East kicks into full gear. And it will be a preview of a fun conference match up in the hopefully near future. Enjoy this between your college bowl consumption.