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Maryland - Syracuse ACC/Big Ten Challenge Preview

Syracuse students agree: Beating Maryland is satisfying.
Syracuse takes on Maryland in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge again. The last time these teams played each other was 2014 as ACC Conference opponents. Then Maryland bolted for the Big Ten. Syracuse won that hard fought game by 2 points. Now Maryland heads to the Carrier Dome. The good news is Tyus Battle appears to be ready to play. He was on fire from mid-range against Toledo before falling hard and tweaking his back, when he did not return. Both Maryland and Syracuse are good rebounding teams, but Syracuse should have the slight edge. However, the last game found both SU big men in big time foul trouble. That didn't end up being a problem against Toledo, who still ran into tough shooting against the 2-3 Zone. Maryland could find a little more success. Guard Anthony Cowan, who is hitting 49% from the floor, while Preseason All-Big Ten selection Forward Justin Jackson can also do some damage. I think both offenses are pretty good and fairly equal. The difference in this game will be which team can rebound and which defense plays better. If Syracuse is able to get blocks without fouling, and get some transition buckets, Syracuse should enjoy a fairly easy cruise to another win against the Big Ten. If Syracuse allows easy buckets, they are in trouble. Because Syracuse is at home, playing well lately, and it appears Tyus Battle is going to play, I'm giving the edge to Syracuse. And I'm also thinking that some of the tick tack fouls that were called on Syracuse in the last game won't be called with a (I'm assuming) mostly veteran ref crew (unlike the last game). I'm taking the Orange by 14. This game is available on ESPN 2 / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. John will be in the Dome. I'm in the home office. The Big Ten sucks and LET'S GO ORANGE!

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Boston College Quick Predictions

Did you know BC sucks and always will?
Another lost season is almost in the books. Syracuse can't possibly get a Bowl Game. So nothing left to play for but pride and the Seniors in their last game in the Carrier Dome. Can Syracuse play well enough to get one last win and beat rival Boston College yet again?
Syracuse is listing Eric Dungey as Out for this game. With Eric Dungey in, Syracuse has a real shot to tear up BC, as Eric and the receivers can put points on the board. But he is out, which leaves the options as a Backup QB or a 3rd String QB to get the job done. Boston College isn't a big explosive offensive team. But they do have an excellent freshman RB in AJ Dillon. The real problem with Mahoney or Culpepper is turnovers. Both had zero TDs and each had 2 INTs versus Louisville. Against Wake, Mahoney had 3 TDs but 2 INTs. Syracuse can't win if they turn the ball over. Especially when you are losing so much going from mobile Eric Dungey to anyone else. Syracuse just doesn't play well offensively if Eric Dungey isn't there. And next year it may be Dungey or DeVito that will lead Syracuse to an 8 win season. I don't know. But I do know, today, the likelihood of Syracuse beating Boston College without Eric Dungey at QB is very low. I've seen stranger things happen with a Syracuse-BC game (2004), but not many, and not for a long time. BC shouldn't blow up Syracuse like Louisville did, but they will win. Sadly BC over Syracuse 38 to 24.
This game is available regionally on the ACC Network at 12:30pm. Check your local listings here. If not on TV where you are, the game will be on ACC Network Extra (WatchESPN). Try to enjoy this with some holiday leftovers. John will be in the Dome. I'll be in the home office. So here's to the Outhouse on the Hill...

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Toledo - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: You can't lose at home to Toledo.
Syracuse continues the homestand with MAC team Toledo Rockets. The Orange have handled the easy teams they have faced so far. But Toledo is probably the best team that Syracuse has faced so far. Can the Orange avoid a big upset?
Jaelan Sanford is the leader of this Toledo team, averaging 23.3ppg, getting in the lane and to the bucket. He's not going to burn Syracuse from outside though. Toledo isn't a huge three point shooting team. Syracuse has the advantage playing the 2-3 Zone, clogging the lane and making Toledo take long and mid-range jump shots. While Toledo has been pretty careful with the ball, look for Toledo to get stuck in the lane and on passes back out once progress is stopped, Syracuse will be able to pick some off. This match up favors Syracuse in almost every category. And Syracuse has really picked up the defensive intensity in the last couple of games, as you can see the newer players start to gel a little more in that Zone. Along with the shot blocking. I'm taking the Orange over the Rockets by 19.
This game is available on the ACC Digital Network Extra at 7:00pm. From all of us here, enjoy your Thanksgiving and stay safe out there. 

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Oakland - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Keep the undefeated thing going.
Syracuse easily handled Texas Southern on Saturday night. A welcome reprieve from whatever happened on that football field in Louisville. And Syracuse's basketball rolls on. This time taking on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.
Oakland is coming off a loss to Toledo on the road, so they head east to take on Syracuse, one of the toughest games on their schedule. They had to face Kansas next, so compared to them, Syracuse isn't as tough a test as the could be facing this early in the year. Their leading scorer is Kendrick Nunn, who previously was on Illinois before being booted due to a battery charge. Either way, he can play basketball however, as he is currently averaging 28 points per game on 46.3% shooting from the field. He is the main offensive threat Syracuse must worry about. Syracuse will have to be active in the zone and clog up the lane to  stop Oakland. But the Horizon League co-champs will have to score a lot if they want to beat Syracuse. Look for the Orange to again get out in transition and score buckets off rebounds. Tyus Battle has been big for the Orange, but Geno Thorpe has come alive as of late. Look for the combination of those two to carry the day again versus Oakland. I like the Orange obviously, but I think they'll win today as well. Syracuse by 23.
This is another internet only affair, tipping at 7:00pm on the ACC Network Extra (WatchESPN). I will again be out of pocket, but John will be watching. Go Orange!

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Louisville Quick Predictions

Syracuse has to beat the bird if they want to Bowl.
The Orange head to Louisville to take on the Cardinals of Louisville. Syracuse is in desperate need of a win. With their backs to the wall, can Syracuse pull off their first road win of the season?
Syracuse heads to Louisville in desperate need of a win. And Louisville isn't playing their best ball either. Louisville also lost to Wake Forest, but they were also smoked by BC. So they are vulnerable, but the fact that defending Heisman winner Lamar Jackson has still been sensational this season. Eric Dungey is still doubtful. Syracuse hasn't won on the road. The Orange don't have any momentum to perhaps win a game. While I have faith Syracuse isn't a terrible football team, they just don't have any of the magic ingredients to earn an upset on the road. I'm taking Louisville and the end of Bowl hopes for this season, 42 to 24.
This game is available on ESPN U, The U, at 3:30pm. Both John and I should be in the home offices so we'll see you out there. Because misery loves company.

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He did his best, but the defense didn't hold up their end.
Eric Dungey couldn't go. So Zack Mahoney gave it a go. And he played decently. Not as well as Eric Dungey, but decent. But the defense allowed A LOT of points. Syracuse fell to a beatable Wake Forest 64 to 43.
Eric Dungey didn't play. Zack Mahoney (33/60, 384yds, 3 TD, 2 INT) had an average day, all things considered. Even if Syracuse scored TDs on the 2 drives that ended in interceptions, Syracuse would not have won the game. Syracuse racked up 621 total yards, and were 6 for 18 on third down. They were 3for 5 on 4th down. They played well all things considered. But not enough to win despite any defensive performance.
Syracuse allowed 64 points, 734 yards, 50% on 3rd downs, and 2 for 2 on 4th. Easily the worst defensive performance of the year. Enough said.
Special Teams
Syracuse had good kick and punt returns. They also had good coverage on both. But Cole Murphy was only 2/4 on field goals. That brings it down to a C.
The play calling was fine. And the adjustments were good. Syracuse just couldn't get the defense off the field, nor could they stop anyone. Not sure different play calling could have helped the buzz saw they ran into, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have helped anything.
C (2.1)
Syracuse faced a good Wake Forest team on the rise, and it was just one of those days they couldn't stop anything they faced. Syracuse loses a crazy game in the Dome. And while a Bowl Game is still mathematically possible, it has become very tough to achieve.
Syracuse now travels to Louisville to take on the reigning Heisman winner and the Louisville Cardinals. Syracuse has to win to stay in the hunt for a Bowl Bid. While Louisville hasn't played great, their QB has. So it will be interesting to watch at least.

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Iona - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're not quite sure where Iona is.
Syracuse did well to beat back Cornell in their season opener. Defense ruled the day. Syracuse now has the opportunity to get better and put on another strong early year performance.
The Orange will face a veteran starting lineup, from Iona, with a few seniors taking the court. Syracuse isn't as lucky, but that probably won't matter. Syracuse is a bigger and more talented team. The key to Syracuse tonight will be the shot blocking and rebounding. Iona has been crushed on the boards so far this season, and that is likely to be worse against Syracuse. Look for Syracuse to get easy second chance points, but also defensive rebounds that could equal quick fast break points for the Orange. SU is a ten point favorite tonight. But I think it should be heftier than that. I'm taking the Orange over Iona by 28.
This game is again on the ACC Digital Network / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. John will be in the Dome. I'll be in the home office watching and online. The answer was New Rochelle. We'll see you out there.

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People have been calling me a mother****er for 42 years. Well, IT'S TRUE, SON!

The Syracuse Men's Basketball team opened the 2017-2018 season on Friday night against upstate rival Cornell. There was nothing remarkably unusual about that... other than Orange coach Jim Boeheim's eldest son, Jimmy, is a freshman for the Big Red. And so Jimmy has gone from being a ball boy in the Carrier Dome in his toddler years, so playing his first collegiate game on that same court bearing his father's name. And in fact, his first collegiate points came on a three as he positioned himself right in front of the Syracuse bench. Drew it up great! But at the end of the day, this was about Syracuse vs. Cornell, and starting the season off the right way. And to the extent Syracuse won the game, then mission accomplished. Orange > Big Red, 77-45.

  • Leading the way for the Orange in scoring was Tyus Battle. Because it had to be. Tyus put up 18 points on 6-14 shooting, 2-5 from three, and 4-6 from the line. He also grabbed four rebounds in 28 minutes (no other Orange player clocked more time, with Matthew Moyer also playing 28 minutes).
  • Battle needed to step up and be that veteran leader on a team that doesn't really have a senior leader to look to right now. It's a young team, so Battle did what he had to do in this regard.
  • Also in double digit scoring were Geno Thorpe off the bench with 12 points on 4-13 shooting, and Oshae Brissett with eleven points on 3-13 from the floor. Overall, Syracuse shot 29-70. I'll spare you the math: it's 41.4%.
  • Don't be fooled by the 77-spot: Syracuse is not a great offensive team. They'd get some great looks, but couldn't get the shots to drop. They also seemed to struggle getting into any sort of offensive groove or setting up any good plays. That being said, most of these guys have only been playing with each other for several weeks -- and mostly against themselves -- so with more game time experience, hopefully we'll see some better gelling.
  • A bright spot with this squad has to be the size, and therefore, defense. Because these players are tall and long-armed, they can cover a larger area in the zone defense. To that end, they held Cornell to 13 baskets on 52 attempts (25%), had 33 defensive rebounds, caused 15 turnovers, blocked six shots, and had twelve steals. Add in 21 offensive rebounds, and you've also got yourself lots of second chance opportunities. The 2-3 zone is generally difficult for young players to fully grasp, but a combination of their understanding of it, their size, and Cornell being Cornell really made the defense look great on Sunday.
  • Grad transfer Geno Thorpe looks good -- or at least that potential is there -- but he really had a hard time getting his shots to fall. Maybe a little more finesse and he'll be a huge scoring threat off the bench.
  • Though you'd have wanted to see a better offensive output from him, Matthew Moyer had a decent game and showed some skills on rebounding. He had the benefit of redshirting last year, being in practice and learning the game, so I expect him to be a force this year. He and Battle should compliment themselves very well.
  • The newly-renumbered Frank Howard had a decent game back in his role as starting point guard. He ran the offense well enough, and had some great plays, but he needs to step it up against better competition. That said, I think he can, and will.
  • For Cornell, Matt Morgan led the way in scoring with 14 points on 3-9 shooting. Jimmy Boeheim was right behind him with eleven points on 4-13 shooting.
Jimmy's younger brother Buddy signed his National Letter of Intent with Syracuse a couple days before this game, so assuming he doesn't redshirt next year, we'll be looking at a Boeheim/Boeheim vs. Boeheim game next fall, when Syracuse inevitably finds itself playing Cornell again. But until then, we focus on '17-'18, where Syracuse has rather low expectations. I have no problem with that assessment, given the young age of the team and its disappointing trip to the NIT last year. But, Syracuse tends to do a lot better than expected when the expectations are so low. It's a much tougher non-conference schedule this season (highlighted by a trip to Miami to face Kansas in the Hoophall Invitational, which I will be attending), and the ACC won't be any easier. However, seeing this team on Friday night proved to me that there's a lot of talent there, and if they're able to harness it and mesh together as a team, they have the potential to surprise some people.

Or at least that's the optimist in me talking.

Up next, Tuesday night against Iona.

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Wake Forest Quick Predictions

Your mascot is just a dude.
Syracuse is sitting about where I thought they would be at this point in the year, with four wins. It was a wild way to get there, losing to Middle Tennessee, but beating Clemson. But they have beaten everyone else I thought they would, and lost to the rest. While Syracuse played LSU and Miami tight, they really missed out at FSU, losing by three. Either way, that's in the past. Syracuse has three games to win two and get to a Bowl. And the first game up is Wake Forest.
This game really rides on the fact that QB Eric Dungey is listed as doubtful. If Dungey can't play, Syracuse will have a big uphill task to move the ball against Wake Forest. While Zack Mahoney is a fine replacement, he just isn't as mobile as Dungey, and doesn't possess the big play ability. While Wake has a pretty good senior QB in John Wolford, Syracuse should be able to carve up the Wake Forest defense with Dungey out there. So I'm going with a simple preview today. If Dungey plays, they win. If he doesn't, they lose a close one. I'm going to be the optimist and assume Dungey gives it a go like he did at Florida State, gutting it out to stay in the game. I'll take the Orange over Wake Forest 34 to 24.
This game is available regionally at 3:00pm. Check your local listings here. If it isn't on TV, it will be on WatchESPN / ACC Extra. John is in the Dome. I'll actually be in Fenway Park doing my husbandly duty watching UMass take on Maine. We'll catch you on the flip side. GO ORANGE! And thanks to all the Veterans out there for your service.

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Cornell - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: A new season is always fun.
It's time again. Syracuse tips off another season of basketball. And while typically Syracuse plans a regional "rival", this game has a little extra meaning as Jim Boeheim's son Jimmy will be playing for Cornell. So an interesting note for a game that should be an easy win for Syracuse.
SU has won 91 against Cornell, to their 31. And things shouldn't change on the Cornell side. Syracuse should end up beating Cornell like a usual early season opponent. But really, we're watching this game because it's the first of the season, Jimmy Boeheim and how that will be, and because this game counts so we'll see what Boeheim will do early which should be what he will be doing to start games for the foreseeable future. Either way, Syracuse is winning this game, Syracuse will play 2-3 Zone, and I expect Tyus Battle to have a good game. The most interesting questions is will be if Frank Howard or Geno Thorpe will play the majority of the game at the point. Either way, Syracuse is winning in what should be an emotional game for Jim Boeheim. Orange over the Big Red for Upstate supremacy by 28.
This game is available on ACC Network Extra / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. I'll have probably my last Friday night game of the season, so I'm out of pocket, but John will be in the Dome. Welcome to Jim Boeheim's 42nd season, and GO ORANGE!

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  • This About Sums It Up

  • I am less smart for having read your blog.
  • - Anonymous Georgetown supporter.
  • You are an idiot...
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  • Congrats on not being very good at what you do.
  • - Anonymous ACC supporter.
  • You are a dweeb, my friend. Grow a backbone.
  • - Anonymous UConn supporter.
  • ...vacuous, asinine, and mind numbing...
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  • Honestly, just admit that you are pathetic...
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  • You just don't have hoops experience.
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  • Leave the journalism to talented people. Brian is just another hack and another fair weather fan.
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  • A bad blog about Syracuse athletics.
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