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Battle 4 Atlantis Recap OR Champs of Paradise

This is the hurricane that slammed into the Bahamas last week

Before leaving for the Bahamas, Syracuse played the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis at the Carrier Dome, and won, improving to 3-0 on the season. Those three wins were examples of how we thought this team would be: decent, winning the winnable games, young, not dominant, and with lots of room for improvement. So knowing that if the team could advance passed Charlotte in the first game at Atlantis, either Texas or UConn would be waiting, probably scared some of us. Playing either of those teams in January or February (or March or April), well, sure. But this young team might not have what it takes to play one of those teams in November. Maybe it was the magic of the islands, the thrill of Thanksgiving, or just the pure talent, but Syracuse made a statement. Several, actually.

Syracuse vs. Charlotte
Basically from the opening tip, Syracuse owned this game. The 49ers certainly weren't favored to win -- they had previously lost to Elon -- and the Orange made sure it showed they were the dominant team. It helps when you shoot as well as Syracuse did (54.29% in the first half) to streak out to a 50-27 halftime lead. Charlotte bounced back in the second half, as Syracuse wasn't able to keep up that production but still never let it get too close. I'd say Michael Gbinije couldn't miss, but he did -- only two shots of his 11 attempts didn't go in, and they were both beyond the arc. Otherwise, he hit six 3's and led all scorers with 26 points. More on him later. Tyler Lydon continued to do his thing, contributing 18 points and being such a presence on the floor. Even Trevor Cooney got 19, despite only hitting three 3's. What's most notable in terms of an improvement from the first three games is that Syracuse found some balance -- 30 points in the paint. Syracuse beat Charlotte 83-70.

Syracuse vs. Connecticut
It's basically constitutional law that anytime Syracuse plays UConn, all anyone can talk about is the six overtime thriller in the 2009 Big East Tournament. And that's fine, because Syracuse won that. We'll always have that. 18-ranked Connecticut so wanted to be the brick wall for Syracuse to run into in this tournament on Paradise Island, but the Orange had some swagger from Wednesday's game. They were looking for a Thanksgiving feast, but it was husky, not turkey, on the menu. This game wasn't a 6OT thriller, but it was a very exciting game featuring several tied scores (including at halftime) and several lead changes. UConn had the advantage early, growing its lead to 10 at 13:39 in the first, but Syracuse fought back for that halftime tie. Syracuse then built a 10-point lead of its own by 7:47 to go in the game. Gbinije and Lydon had great games again, along with Cooney and Malachi Richardson stepping up their offensive production as well. Tyler Roberson was also much improved, with a rebound short of a double double on the day. Great team effort for the win over UConn, 79-76. There was talk after the game about these schools -- once conference rivals -- reaching an agreement to play each other on a regular basis. This game had that feel to it, as many of those conference & BET games did, and I don't think you'll find a fan of either school that wouldn't want there to be at least semi-regular meetings of these teams.

Syracuse vs. Texas A&M
Sure, Syracuse was the underdog against #18 UConn the day before, but that hard-fought victory had no matter to the odds makers in determining Syracuse would again be underdog against #25 Texas A&M in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship. My fear entering the game was that the Aggies would be too big or too physical for Syracuse to handle, and/or get hot shooting the 3 as they'd be tempted to against the 2-3 zone. Plus, it was going to be difficult to keep the Syracuse shooters hitting those shots at the same clip they had been in the previous days. But hey, when things are going well, things are going well. And the Syracuse shooting did cool off -- but 44% from three and nearly 80% from the foul line is gonna get you places. This was yet another games where the usuals did well -- and damn, Tyler Lydon continues to play well ahead of his time -- but Roberson's production trailed off a bit. What was great to see, both in this tournament but particularly in this game, was the improvement of Dajuan Coleman. While he struggled at times and was on a short leash, he ended up with decent minutes in this game and made the most of them -- four points, six rebounds, and was just an active presence under the basket. I hope some confidence can carry over for Coleman so he can play more minutes and allow Lydon more time at forward -- think of how many more points he could score! With this 74-67 win over the Aggies, Syracuse is your 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis champions!

What a great tournament for Syracuse! It ended up to be the stepping out party for several players, and for the team as a whole. Finally, some national attention at how good this team is, and how good they could be. That was surely reflected when the national polls were released today (#14 AP, #19 Coaches). But now is no time to rest on your laurels -- Wednesday features a home game against the Wisconsin Badgers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge; Saturday brings the real rivalry renewed when the Orange travels to DC to face Georgetown; and eight days later a trip to MSG to face St. John's. I'll be at all of those games, and of course we'll have coverage here on Orange::44.

PS -- rumor has it if you put your ear up to the seashell on the Battle 4 Atlantis trophy, you can hear chants of "UConn... USuck!"

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Boston College Quick Predictions

Rivalry Week!
Syracuse is playing for pride this week. After losing eight games in a row after winning their first three, Syracuse and BC are staying home this Bowl Season, so we're all just playing for pride in this one. Can Syracuse end the year with a win against a rival, or will Scott Shafer lose his last game in orange?
Boston College brings the best defense in the nation into the Dome. But they also bring one of the worst offenses in the country as well. Syracuse is in a fairly similar boat. Syracuse's offense is capable but not the best, while the defense typically bends a lot but doesn't break. SU's defense is far from the best though. The secondary is questionable at best. However, both teams will be starting true freshman QBs. BC's Jeff Smith is a QB that can really get things going on the ground, kind of like SU's QB. Whichever team can establish a solid running attack, as well as take care of the ball, should win the game. BC has the edge with defense, but Syracuse will have the edge at home, along with Shafer and the staff really having no tomorrow. That means some gutsy play calling and taking chances. I think this game will be close, but I'll give the edge to Shafer and the home field after Thanksgiving. I'll take the Orange over BC 24 to 21.
This game is available regionally at 12:30pm. Check your local listings here. As always, for those not blacked out, the game is available on WatchESPN. The Orange::44 staff will be in the Dome tomorrow. And after 60 minutes, no matter the results, we'll be giving Scott Shafer a standing ovation for what he has done and tried to do for the program. We wish Scott well. Mercifully this season comes to a close though. And as always, GO ORANGE! For Boston, for Boston...

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Syracuse students agree: After beating UConn, SU needs to win it all.
Syracuse had a very good Thanksgiving, beating rival UConn 79-76 in the Battle For Atlantis Semi-final. Now they are playing Texas A&M for the Tournament Title. A&M is coming off a one point win against Gonzaga. A&M has a very good player in Jalen Jones. Basically, if Syracuse can contain him, Syracuse will have a good opportunity to become champs. A&M has a big front court as well. Syracuse will have to keep their key players on the floor and foul free if they want to stay in the game. Syracuse did a great job against Connecticut fouling only when necessary, and Lydon and Roberson had some big blocks. Not only that, but they shot the ball well, not only though screens and driving, but also in transition. They had every answer for UConn in the 2nd half. I guarantee A&M is not used to playing against a 2-3 Zone, and if they are it isn't Syracuse. I think that gives them the edge in this one. I'll take the Orange over the Aggies by eight. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 3:00pm.

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Syracuse - Connecticut Battle for Atlantis Preview

Syracuse students agree: Have a Happy Thanksgiving and UConn... U SUCK!
Well well well... look who it is. Connecticut. Former Big East rivals take to the floor in the Bahamas for the right to advance to the Battle for Atlantis Championship against Gonzaga or Texas A&M. It should be a fun match. No matter how good or bad each team is relative to each other, they deliver a highly competitive, fun game. UConn is a tough team because they can take the ball inside or shoot from the perimeter. However, keeping UConn out of the lane with the Syracuse 2-3 Zone will be critical. If Syracuse can force shots from UConn and actually manage to box out, Syracuse has a great shot to advance. Look for UConn to attack on the baseline behind Lydon or Coleman. UConn has a slight size edge, and could force Coleman and/or Lydon in foul trouble. Either way, Gbinije and Cooney should also be attacking and shooting. While Gbinije will be bothered on the perimeter, the good news is whoever is guarding him will probably be slightly undersized. If Syracuse is making shots half as well as last night, they will be in good shape. Either way, this should be a fun one. But I'll give the slight edge to UConn right now, who is playing slightly better defense than Syracuse, and rebounding better as well. I'll take UConn by six. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 3:30pm. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Charlotte - Syracuse Battle for Atlantis Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're all home watching this.
Syracuse is in the Bahamas, which is a pretty great Thanksgiving I would say. But it's Business Time, as Syracuse first takes on Charlotte. Syracuse should crush them. Syracuse beat Elon and Elon beat Charlotte. Seems flawless. Michael Gbinije is rolling for Syracuse, and even Trevor Cooney is contributing. Malachi Richardson is averaging 14 points as a freshman. Pretty good. Charlotte's best player is Andrien White is averaging 14.3ppg. But the thing is, the Syracuse defense has been playing excellent in the first three games. Despite having trouble in the rebounding department, Syracuse is limiting opponents to 56 points per game. Syracuse should be able to handily take out Charlotte, a team that doesn't have a ton of talent, and shouldn't be a sneaky pick to upset the Orange. I'll take Syracuse by 16. This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 at 2:30pm.

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Was Silent G the only one on the court?

The good thing about early season tournaments is that you won't have to win the opening games to advance. Nevertheless, it's good that Syracuse did on Saturday night in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Elon. Except, this game didn't have the excitement of being at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I've been there. The place is amazing. Go sometime if you have a chance. Anyway, Saturday night's game came on the heels of an awful Syracuse football loss where it seemed like the players had given up and Coach Shafer had as well, so I think we all wanted to retreat into the (relative) consistency of Orange Basketball. And it was as consistent as it's been this season: scary at times, lots of threes, but in the end a Syracuse victory, 66-55.

  • If we're lucky, we saw the emergence of Tyler Roberson: Offensive Juggernaut. If we're not, we only saw him score 20 points on 9-15 shooting, and pull down 16 rebounds (seven offensive) for a double double. As you would suspect, none of his points came beyond the arc (he didn't even attempt a 3) so his ability to get inside to score, or his short/mid jumpers, is an important part of Syracuse gaining balance.
  • Michael Gbinije had a good night with 16 points, including 3-3 from 3, and a perfect 5-5 from the line.
  • Malachi Richardson managed a 13 point effort despite being 1-7 from the floor. He made up for it by going 10-12 on free throws.
  • Trevor Cooney had another ho hum game.
  • The center position remains a work in progress. Starter Dajuan Coleman played only 10 minutes and was a perfect 1-1 from the floor. In his absence, freshman Tyler Lydon played 35 minutes. If you've been reading my recaps, you know I've been talking Lydon up in the previous two games, and he again didn't disappoint against Elon. While he can shoot and he can penetrate, it's not the offense where he'll shine -- it's the defense. He's active, he seems to know how the zone works, and that's just monumental for a freshman. The drawback is his size; listed at 6'8", 210 lbs., Tyler won't be intimidating any ACC drivers. For now, though, the Elons of the world are good practice for Tyler.
  • If Syracuse could get a sizeable lead for long enough in a game, it would be nice to get Coleman more minutes. He's in better shape, he's older & more mature, and he's in theory smarter about the game, so in theory he just needs to shake off the rust. And it's hard to do that on the bench. I think down at Paradise Island he'll have to play more, just due to the fact of playing The UConns or Michigans of the world.
  • Back to this game, Syracuse shot a meh 39.2% from the field, but a respectable 40.0% from three, and a rather amazing 80% from the charity stripe. They also had 15 turnovers which turned into 15 Elon points.
Syracuse hasn't dominated so far this season, so it'll be interesting to see what they can do in the Bahamas, particularly against the power conference teams. Well, to the extend the American Athletic Conference is power. Damn, it's gonna be so much fun if Syracuse gets to play UConn!

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Elon - Syracuse Battle for Atlantas Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're already on break.
Syracuse is 2-0. One game they dominated. The other they had to come back. But really, the difference has not been shooting or scoring, it has been the fundamental things basketball players are expected to do. That is, boxing out and rebounding. Syracuse kept the rebounding margin close against Lehigh and they ran away with it. Bonaventure dominated the boards and SU had to crawl back to win the game. If Syracuse keeps the rebounds close with Elon, they will have a good chance to win this game. Elon is a pretty good 3 point shooting team. They have hit 35.4% from long range this season. If SU can rebound off missed 3s and get some transition offense, they should be handily in control. If Elon managed to get hotter than they usually are, SU might be in trouble. Either way, with 2-3 Zone, SU will be begging Elon to shoot. If Syracuse can get some shots to fall, this should go their way. I like SU in this one by 9. This game is an internet only affair at WatchESPN at 7:00pm. A nice change from the football game.

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NC State Quick Predictions

It's sorta like our logo. Sorta not.
Syracuse fared pretty well against #1 Clemson in the Dome. But now Syracuse is on the road again. Syracuse surprised NC State a couple years ago. Can they do it again and keep some of that momentum and good will from keeping it close with Clemson? Scott Shafer is hoping so.
Zach Mahoney is again at the helm. It should be a little easier moving the ball against NC State than it was against Clemson. He did fine enough, but he's probably not going to set the world on fire. Just take care of the ball and I'll be happy. NC State is not very deep at the Running Back position with players getting dismissed, injured, etc. That means that QB Jacoby Brissett will have to make throws. Well they may be in luck, as we know how bad the SU Secondary has been. If Syracuse can manage to pressure the QB, Syracuse could get lucky with bad throws and tip a pass here and there. I think if Syracuse is able to force some turnovers and move the ball even half the time, they should be in this game. I think we'll have a close one today, but I can't count on SU to get it done on the road when they have proven they can't do it at home. I'll take NC State over the Orange in a tight one 31 to 27.
This game is available regionally at 12:30. Check your local listings here. For everyone else not blacked out (by the way, WatchESPN can't even make a map right), it's available on the interwebs via ESPN. Both John and I are in the home office (my football season is done finally) so enjoy our tweets.

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When a coach does this, it usually costs 15 yards.
It was a good effort, but of course the Orange came up short. It was kind of stunning that they were just a score behind late in this game, but Clemson kept the game out of reach as the seconds ticked away. Clemson was your winner 37 to 27.
Offense
B-
Zach Mahoney (8/21, 80yds, 0 TD, 0 INT, 2 Rush TD) did the bare minimum though the air, but made it happen with his feet. The rest of the rushing attack fared pretty well also. The real issues were only 15 first downs and 3/13 on 3rd down. Otherwise, not bad.
Defense
B
The secondary was typically bad, but everyone overachieved playing the #1 team, who let Syracuse hang around deep into the 4th quarter. Not much to say. They overachieved. Can't hate that.
Special Teams
B
#DixonForHiesman. Sadly, Cole Murphy was only 2/3 on FGs, however, his long was 48. Pretty good.
Coaching
C
You can hate pass interference flags and argue judgment there. I get that. But arguing a hands to the face flag is pretty dumb. And then you get an extra 15 added on. Not smart. Granted it didn't really affect the outcome. But still. It's not wise. Additionally, I wish Shafer went for it on 4th Down late in the game when they were only down a score. You're playing #1. You're already not making a bowl in all likelihood. Why wouldn't you just try and play spoiler and go for the win at home against #1?
GPA
B- (2.68)
All in all, another fine effort from the kids. Unfortunately, these kind of games provide little to feel good about when the team then goes on to get blown out by far lesser teams. Either way though, this is about as good as you could have hoped for, other than a win. I can't hate how the team played all that much in this one.
Syracuse hits the road one more time this next weekend. At least the final two teams aren't ranked.

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"When I shoot game-tying threes, it feels like the hoop is THIS BIG!"

These two upstate schools first played each other in 1923 and are separated by just a three-hour drive. But in spite of that, they're really only "rivals" because Jim Boeheim said so. From 1977 to 1987, Syracuse and St. Bonaventure played annually, sometimes more than once. They've just played occasionally since then, with the most recent tilt in 2009. Syracuse owned a 23-3 head to head record going into Tuesday's game, and the Bonnies had never won in the Carrier Dome. So, sham rivalry. BUT, this is a game that needs to be back on the schedule every year. More on that later. Bonas jumped out to a quick start, led 35-29 at the half, and carried a lead until a Tyler Lydon 3-pointer tied the game at 54 with 9:03 to go. From there, Syracuse took over and won 79-66.

  • The leader of the SU offense once again was Michael Gbinije, with 23 points on 8-14 from the floor, 3-7 from three, and 4-6 from the line. Mike also had six assists and four steals for a really solid game.
  • Also in double digits were Trevor Cooney (18, 4-12, 2-8, 3-11), Malachi Richardson (15, 5-11, 2-7, 3-5) and Tyler Lydon (13, 3-5, 2-2, 5-5).
  • Lydon was nothing but consistent in this one with a very productive 31 minutes. He may be a freshman, but he ain't playing like one through two official games.
  • Bonas really hit the boards, with 43 rebounds -- and 24 off the offensive glass. That translated to 29 second chance points.
  • The Bonnies got good production from their players, particularly Jaylen Adams with 16 points and Dion Wright with 13. As a team, Bonaventure 36.4% from the floor, to 46.2% for Syracuse. I'd put the Bonas percentage lower on account of all the missed shots but offensive rebounds & put-backs they had. There were a few possessions with 3 or 4 offensive rebounds. Keeping the ball away from Syracuse was a good strategy for a long time.
This was a great game. Bonaventure came out wanting to win, while Syracuse seemed to come out expecting to win. And that showed for a large part of the game. Credit to the Orange for never letting it get too far out of hand, but I swear there were points where I openly wondered if Syracuse could come back. Then when they did, it seemed like they couldn't get through that 5-point deficit and Bonas would widen the gap again. Once Syracuse was able to bust through that, tie the game, and then take the lead, you could tell that the pendulum had swung to Syracuse's side and it just wasn't going to swing back before the game was over.

I've been watching a lot of Bonaventure basketball in recent years, because my brother Andy went there for his bachelor's degree and his MBA. I've seen them do some great things in the A-10, I've seen them make the NCAA Tournament, and I saw one hell of a game at the Reilly Center last year against VCU where Bonas won at the buzzer. They're a fun team with some great talent, and despite not being a power school in a power conference, they can still play. I would consider them a mid-major on the rise. Because of this, and because of how exciting Tuesday's game was, I think Syracuse needs to do what it can to keep this game on the schedule every year. Maybe now they're a sham rival, but why not make them a real rival? They've played Syracuse tough the last few meetings, and even if they never quite get to the point of beating the Orange, they make for better games than Colgate or Cornell have been recently. That would be a good retirement gift for Boeheim, the establishment of an annual game. We could play for some weird made up trophy or something, I don't know.

Or maybe I just want to be able to rub it in my brother's face every year. 

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St. Bonaventure - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: St. Bonaventure isn't that big a rivalry.
For some reason, this is considered a rivalry. The schools are close enough in Upstate NY that it makes sense, but that's about the only reason. Syracuse is 23-3 lifetime against St. Bonaventure, with the last win for the Bonnies coming in 1980-81 season. So... not really a rivalry I would say. However, they come in a tough team in the A-10. They have some talent, and they can make this a game. Syracuse has committed to living a dying by the long ball. We're playing like Villanova, just throwing in four shooters and seeing what happens. While Syracuse showed flashes of getting the ball inside via some nice passes down low after double screens, it's mainly going to be a chuck fest. That is upsetting. While that can be very fun to watch when the balls are going in, it will be absolutely brutal if they are not and/or the team is behind. Bonaventure has a couple talented scorers in Dion Wright and Syracuse native Denzel Gregg. But if Syracuse isn't turning the ball over, Bonaventure will find the game is out of hand for them fairly quickly. Syracuse has to take care of the ball, sure, but they also need to keep the defense honest by going inside a few times, either to DeJuan Coleman or Tyler Lydon. Gbinije and Cooney also need to head to the hoop now and then as well. That will cause the defense to crash inside, and allow drive and kick shots from 3. I can't say that the X's and O's analysis will change much game to game this year. Either way, unless Bonaventure is shooting lights out, I like the Orange by 14. This game is a Brennan Family Civil War, with John going to SU and his younger brother Andy going to Bonaventure. They'll be in the Dome tonight together. So therefore, we wish John all the luck in the world. And feel free to make that car ride home miserable. This game is available regionally at 7:00pm. Check your local listings here. Available on WatchESPN for everyone else, or for all on the ACC Website.

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Syracuse shooting the three: get used to it

Friday night was the season opener for the 2015-2016 Syracuse Men's Basketball Team. This year's campaign began against Lehigh in the Carrier Dome, and seemed to be a continuation of what we had seen in the two exhibitions leading up to the real deal: Syracuse will shoot more threes than you think they should. We'll get to that in a minute. The first half of this game was dominated by Syracuse, who shot decent enough on the offensive end of the court, but really played active, shut it down defense at the other end. In the second half, the defense let up a bit, and the offense sputtered at times, but the Syracuse lead never shrunk to fewer than six. At the final horn, Syracuse emerged victorious 57-47.

  • Senior leader Michael Gbinije lived up to his role and led the team in scoring with 16 points on 5-13 shooting, 2-9 from three, and 4-5 from the line. He also ran the point for much of the game. I'd have to check to see if he shot better when he moved to forward for parts of the game, but ball movement and shooting looks were good while he ran the offense.
  • Call it hard word, call it playing with a chip on his shoulder, call it whatever you want, but Kaleb Joseph played 14 minutes and did some good things with it. Eight points on 2 of 3 shooting (all from three), a perfect 2-2 from the line, and an assist and a steal. The lineup with Kaleb running the point is quite small, so you won't see it often, but if he can keep up quality play like that, you'll appreciate the minutes he does end up getting.
  • In his college debut, Malachi Richardson played well: 14 points on 5-12 from the floor including 4-9 from three, He pulled down six rebounds and came up with three steals, but turned the ball over five times. His game's far from perfect, but he's got raw talent and you have to be excited about where he could take this team.
  • One of the biggest questions I had going into this season is how this team would adjust -- particularly offensively -- without Rakeem Christmas? And would DaJuan Coleman help fill that void? The answers seem to be by shooting threes and not really, respectively. Syracuse had virtually no inside game to speak of. Ten points in the paint. Shooters were getting open and taking good shots -- and making 32.4% of them from beyond the arc. That's good enough against Lehigh, evidently, but it won't be good enough against a better defense or a better offense. The Orange will have to establish an inside game so that there are other scoring options, particularly if the shooters are having a bad night; plus, the existence of an inside threat helps open up the shooters. I tweeted it during the game and I feel this will be the thing to really look at: offensive balance is key.
  • Back to Coleman... he only played 13 minutes due to foul trouble and overall ineffectiveness. I imagine he's still kicking off quite a bit of rust, so he's getting the benefit of the doubt for the next several weeks. But certainly come conference time, he needs to be back. In the meantime, Chino Obokoh and Tyler Lydon will get a lot of time at the center of the zone. Friday night, Tyler showed us why he might be one of the more underrated freshman on this team, if not the conference or country. The kid can play! Though his offense wasn't anything fancy, he played really active on defense, with a couple of blocks, three steals, eight rebounds (eleven total), and a presence on the floor you won't see a stat line for. He's gonna become a lot of fans' favorite player as his career at Syracuse continues.
  • Lehigh shot nine percent in the first half. A better second half brought the total game shooting up to 28.8%. 
All things considered, a very acceptable season opener. There were some bright spots, and some things to work on, but a win is a win. The team does have some great shooters, so if they're all on for a given game, there could be some obscene scores. If you want someone smarter than me to recap things for you, check out Coach Boeheim's postgame presser here.

Up next for the Orange is a Tuesday night tilt against longtime (but not so much recently) rival St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies. My brother's school. Brian will have that preview shortly.

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Lehigh - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Always fun when a new season starts.
Ahh the start of a new year. So much excitement and hope. But this year has a lot of questions. Syracuse is picked to finish a bubble team, probably squeaking into the NCAAs. Can't say I can disagree with that assessment. Syracuse should win some games they probably shouldn't. And lose some they should have won. But this one should be what the restaurant business calls a soft open. Lehigh should be easy pickings for a team that seems to be gelling, with freshmen contributing, and the veterans playing better than they finished last year. DaJuan Coleman is back in the low post. And apparently we have more than one player that can consistently hit 3s. A refreshing change from Cooney, who can hit them, but not when it seems to matter most. That might change this year, but for now we won't need him to hit a go ahead 3 against Lehigh. The Engin... er Mountain Hawks come in looking to make waves early. But Syracuse has too much talent for them. Lehigh returns four starters and is the Patriot League favorite, but unless they all are on fire, Syracuse should end up on top. Syracuse should take and make a good number of 3s themselves in this game. And Syracuse should be able to body Lehigh in the low post all day. If Syracuse manages to get into a transition game with lots of fast break scoring, it's game over Lehigh. I like the Orange by 17. This game is internet only on WatchESPN at 7:00pm.

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Clemson Quick Predictions

Yeah, just go ahead and wear orange.
Syracuse, banged up, but back home faces #1 Clemson. The clear favorite to win the ACC and advance to the College Football Playoff. No reason to doubt the result that should occur in this one. The only questions are who will be hurt and how bad will the score be?
i'm not saying Syracuse has no shot in this one... but yes, I'm saying that. I don't think Syracuse comes close to even keeping this score respectable. Dabo's boys will run wild on the defense, both up front in this one, and obviously the secondary. Syracuse should try and establish the run early, but won't be able to. So that will force Zach Mahoney to try and do all he can to keep SU in the game. I predict a lot of 3 and outs. Syracuse is outmatched at every position, especially the skill positions. So hey, go out there and have fun, maybe try some trickery. But don't get hurt. Clemson big over the Orange 48 to 10.
This game will be available nationally (of course) on ABC at 3:30. For those not in front of a TV, it will be on WatchESPN. Look if you dare. John will be there in person. I'll be out of pocket. Might be for the best.

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Another one down. Again.
Syracuse just can't seem to have nice things for football. The backup to the backup will be starting again because Dungey is knocked out with another "upper body" injury, AKA concussion. And on top of that, they didn't even have that strong a showing in the game. Louisville rolled at home 41 to 17.
Offense
C
Two picks and a fumble don't help the cause. But they failed to move the ball consistently with anyone, really. It's a miracle they got 17 points on the board.
Defense
D
Louisville earned 579 yards, and despite having 4 turnovers, Syracuse couldn't really stop them. No surprises here.
Special Teams 
C
Riley Dixon continues to be the MVP for the team, but Cole Murphy was only 1/2 on the day.
Coaching
D
Leaving Dungey, your starting QB in that game, when honestly it was already over, at this point in the year is dumb. As evident by him getting injured again. That's concussion #2 in the same season. That is not good. And the explanations for leaving him in, from Shafer and Lester, were contradictory and didn't make sense. I've lost a lot of confidence in this staff.
GPA
C- (1.5)
The sad fact is the Syracuse football team isn't very good right now. And they have players that could actually contribute meaningful minutes sidelined with injuries anyway. So unless they are playing a team like Wake Forest, they've basically got not shot. Especially on the road. Which is what happened here.
Syracuse has no rest, as #1 Clemson comes into the Dome. I'm just hoping there aren't any more injuries. Which is all you can really hope for in a game like that.

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Cue the Crying Child...

Gonna be tough to wash off this stench. YOU'RE SWIMMING IN YOUR OWN FILTH!

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Louisville Quick Predictions

The original Angry Bird?
Syracuse has had a tough go as of late, losing their last 5 games. To save the season a win needs to happen before they next play Clemson, where all hope will probably be lost. Louisville is traditionally a team that Syracuse plays tough. Can they pull of an upset today?
Syracuse enters The 'Ville a 17 point dog. Sounds about right. Syracuse has done little in the last few weeks since LSU to show they have much fight left in them in terms of playing tough on defense when it matters. Syracuse couldn't hold off a beatable Pitt team in the Dome on a final drive. The Syracuse secondary let FSU go crazy. There is no reason to believe that Louisville's receivers also won't go crazy. They have a pair that are very good. It seems far more likely that Louisville with have more first downs, more 3rd down conversions, yards, time of possession, and any other offensive stat that matters. Unless Syracuse can force about 3 turnovers, Louisville should run away with this one. Syracuse's offense is capable, but you have to basically score on every possession when your defense isn't forcing many stops and stay on the field for several 3rd downs every drive. They are gassed by the 4th quarter, like they have been for the last few games. Today is not the team SU will upset, if they're going to have one this year. I'm taking Louisville 41 to 20.
This game is available on the ACC Network at 12:30. Check your local listings. For those who don't have the game on TV (and I don't because THANKS BOSTON COLLEGE), it is available on WatchESPN. John is in the home office. I'll again be unavailable with my last week of high school football. Enjoy what you can. Cheers.

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There were a few good plays to celebrate. But not many.
It was going to be FSU on top. That, most of us were sure of. And they were. But it was the mistakes and missed opportunities that sting the most in a game like this, and make the scoreboard look worse than it needed to. FSU smoked the Orange 45 to 21.
Offense
B-
Eric Dungey (11/24, 120yds, 0 TD, 0 INT, 2 Rush TD) continues his streak of having at least 2 TDs in a game. Both of these were on the ground. He played fairly well and didn't turn the ball over, which is good. Overall the running backs performed about as well as you'd think they would against FSU's defense. They were 5/16 on third down, 0/1 on 4th, had 14 total, and 303 total yards. They did possess the ball pretty even with FSU though.
Defense
D
The secondary is a mess. It's a mess against a team half as good as FSU. For a team like FSU, they were licking their chops. It didn't take long for backup QB Sean Maguire to drive down the field. No need to comment further.
Special Teams
A
SU didn't attempt a field goal, but Cole Murphy was perfect on XPs. Riley Dixon continues to be excellent. Returns were good as well. Solid day for Special Teams.
Coaching
D
By now, you know what happened at the end of the first half with Shafer's puzzling TO that allowed FSU to score quickly. If you don't, here is the timeline. And they obviously didn't prepare the defense as much as they could have for FSU. 
GPA
C (2.18)
I didn't think Syracuse would have kept this game too close, but they could have. Mistakes were made and FSU capitalized. Earning them a win by 4 scores. The game could have been closer. And fans are getting tired of strategic mistakes that seem to pop up every game this season. There is a difference between losing a game, but showing promise, and losing the game like they did at Florida State.
Syracuse stays on the road to take on Louisville next. Another tough order. Syracuse might find some magic, but the odds aren't with them. Sadly.

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