Syracuse students agree: Everyone loves beating Notre Lame.
Syracuse, fresh off a nice win against Pittsburgh in the Carrier Dome, has had since Monday night off to prepare to play Notre Dame in the Joyce Center in South Bend. They are 20-0 and undefeated. Can that last against the Irish?
Notre Dame is interesting. They don't have consistent three point threats as they have had in the past. Statistically, their best shooter sits the bench with an ACL tear, out for the rest of the year. Also, their second best rebounder, in Tim Abromaitis. That means their best player now is guard Eric Atkins, averaging 13.3ppg, and shooting 44.3% from behind the arc. After that, it gets significantly weaker in terms of offensive production. The difference in this game will be Notre Dame's ability to handle three points. Limiting turnovers is the first. They have the least amount of turnovers in the Big East. If Syracuse cannot create turnovers or steals to get some easy baskets they could struggle. Slowing the pace of the game is the second. Syracuse is beatable if you keep them consistently playing half court basketball. While they can score (obviously) in the half court, it makes it harder for them. Additionally it limits possessions. Finally, Notre Dame has to rebound. They will probably out-rebound Syracuse like they have been for several games this year. But limiting second chance baskets will be key for the Orange. If the fail to do that, and ND gets a kick out to an open shooter, it usually bodes well for that team. Syracuse is more athletic and deep though. We should see nine guys today. I have a feeling Baye Moussa Kieta will see some significant time today, but really it is Syracuse's back court with Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, and Dion Waiters that will carry this team today. Scoop has been playing very well lately, averaging 11 points and 9.5 assists his past two games. He's only committed a couple turnovers in that stretch as well. He's good for one horrific turnover a game, but since it's only one it's pretty forgivable. Kris Joseph should shoot well today and I think James Southerland and CJ Fair will obviously play a huge part. While I think this game will be close, I'm taking Syracuse in a tight game. The Orange stay unbeaten by five.
This game is available nationally tonight at 6:00pm EST on ESPN. Also available online. This should be a close and probably uncomfortable game to watch for the Orange faithful, so distract yourself with some Twitter snark when you can. Enjoy your Saturday.