Syracuse student agree: The Dunk will be apply named tonight.
Syracuse is still #1 in the country. They are #1 still after handling their two Big East opponents so far. And for some reason there is tons of "trap game" talk for tonight. Is the 9:00pm start fooling everyone?
I watched a good portion of the second half of the Providence v. Georgetown game on New Year's Eve. In 40 minutes of basketball, Providence scored a total of 40 points. They shot 25.5% from the floor, and 3-13 from behind the arc. Oof. Oddly, they only had 13 turnovers in the game. That means that Providence was content to slow the ball down and run their half court offense. The problem was, against Georgetown, a weaker defense than Syracuse, Providence had trouble running any sets. Think Seton Hall against the Orange in the Dome. And while Providence has had a few days to prepare for the Orange, Providence does not nearly have the experience at the center position like Seton Hall does. The best offense against the 2-3 Zone comes from putting the ball in the hands of your center around the free throw line to either drive inside more, take a jump shot, or kick it back out. Herb Pope, one of the best big men in the conference, only managed four points against Syracuse. And he's far better at the position currently than Kadeem Batts, LaDontae Henton, or bench player Bilal Dixon. And despite great intentions, unless something magical happens, Providence isn't going to shoot the nine three pointers it would probably take to threaten taking out the top scoring team in the league. One thing Providence does do well is rebound though, so they should have a lot of possessions off of missed Syracuse baskets. The problem is that Syracuse will steal the ball and get some easy run outs. Not to mention the fact that Syracuse plays ten guys, who all can score. Providence plays seven. This is the kind of game that does not favor Providence in the slightest if it turns into a run and gun type of track meet. Gerard Coleman can score against inferior defenses, but he is just not good at shooting from long range. Vincent Council leads the Friars in scoring with 16.1ppg and also in assists at 6.6, but will have trouble against Fab Melo and the other Syracuse defenders inside. Providence last took down #1 in a Pittsburgh team in February of 2009 in the Dunk. But that Providence team had more overall talent on the team. Lifetime Providence is 2-10 against #1, but that should be changed to 2-11 after tonight. No trap game here. No magic should be at hand. While clearly Syracuse is not invincible, an abnormal amount of things have to go the Friars' way if they want to pull off the upset. The probability is staggering. I'm picking Syracuse, a team that can actually score in a Big East league game, by 29.
This game is a rare 9:00pm start for the Orange, maximizing the television coverage as there are several other league games on tonight at 7:00pm. This game will be available nationally on ESPN 3, but will be available on SNY and TWCS. I'll be at the laptop helm during the game tonight so I look forward to making fun of the Providence mascot with you all. We'll be back later this week with a wrap up from DePaul and this game.