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Virginia Tech - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: It's nice to win the first Conference game.
Syracuse starts conference play after a strong finish to the non-conference slate with a confidence building win against Eastern Michigan. Syracuse was able to pull away after being tied at the half. Syracuse's offense has been a bit stagnant in the last few games, but Syracuse seemed to snap out of it against Eastern Michigan. Virginia Tech on the other hand has had no trouble scoring points. They put up around 91 points a game. So obviously the big matchup in this game is the VTech offense, versus the stingy 2-3 and the tall shot blockers of Syracuse. If Syracuse is able to force turnovers and prevent three point baskets from VTech, Syracuse will have a good chance to win. Honestly, I'm confused as to how Syracuse is favored in this game. My only thought is because it's the first conference game of the season for both teams, and Syracuse is at home, they get the edge. I think Battle has gotten out of his slump and Syracuse should be able to score against Tech. It just comes down to if the Syracuse defense can find the shooters. Good news is Syracuse can rebound, so if Syracuse is able to harass the shooters, they are in good position to get the rebound and get a fast break. I think I'm taking Syracuse, again because they are at home. I'll take Syracuse by six. This game is available on ESPN U / WatchESPN at 6:00pm. John is actually, definitely in the Dome tonight. I'm in the home office. Happy New Years to you and yours! Go Orange!

Eastern Michigan - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're still not there, but with offense like this, who wants to be?
Syracuse is coming off a tough loss to a very good St. Bonaventure team. But Syracuse now has only one game left between them and the ACC Conference schedule. So Syracuse needs to get one last win tonight. And the team playing them is a familiar foe in Rob Murphy's Eastern Michigan Eagles. So you know what that means? You'll be watching a lot of 2-3 Zone. A little surprisingly, EMU is very good at steals and blocks. So this is going to be another grind of a game for Syracuse, and will probably be like the first half of Syracuse-Georgetown, where it will be mostly defense. It is imperative for Syracuse to limit turnovers and drive to the bucket to get good looks. They can't settle for outside shooting, as tempting as it is to try and shoot over the zone. However, the good news is Tyus Battle had a career day against EMU last season. So look for him to go off in this game, or at least draw enough attention for the other starters to get scoring opportunities. But really, the team that blocks and steals the most is probably winning this game. Syracuse needs to execute good half court offense to gear up for the Conference slate, so hopefully they will get a good final tune up against the last non-conference opponent. Syracuse should beat EMU, but probably not by a ton. I'm taking the Orange over the Eagles by 15. This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. John is in the Dome. I'm in the home office. Enjoy the last easy game of the season. GO ORANGE!

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Buffalo - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're not on campus anymore.
Syracuse earned a very exciting overtime win against rival Georgetown on Saturday, but it's a fairly quick turnaround as Syracuse heads back to the Dome to take on nearby Buffalo. UB won't be a particularly tough team for Syracuse. Right now SU is an 10.5 point favorite. Buffalo is without Dontay Caruthers, the current Mid-American Defensive PoY. They also probably won't have Mizzou transfer Wes Clark. That leaves the talented guard CJ Massinburg, who shoots 47% from three, and averages 20 points a game. If Syracuse can locate him, and shut him down, Syracuse should have a fairly easy go of it. I expect the rebounding advantage, and obviously the steals from the top of the Zone for easy buckets at the other end. I'm taking Syracuse in this game, because Syracuse is fired up from the Georgetown win, and that momentum is going to carry over in this game. And really, if there is a team from New York on the schedule that Syracuse should be even a little worried about, that distinction belongs to St. Bonaventure, not the State University of New York at Buffalo. I'm taking the Orange by 17. This game will be available on WatchESPN / ACC Network Extra at 7:00pm. Another Internet Only affair. I think John will be watching in the Dome. I will be catching this one at a later date as I have family obligations tomorrow evening. But we'll catch you on the flip side. GO ORANGE!

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Tyus Battle again came to play, and brought Syracuse with him.
Syracuse had played Georgetown the last two seasons outside of conference play since they moved to the ACC. And both games have been a let down. Syracuse was favored in both and they were unable to get a win. It was a little understandable without Jim Boeheim in DC in 2015. Last year in the Dome was brutal. And we all thought we were headed for a similar outcome. The fact that Syracuse was playing their first true road game, and a relatively meaningless game in the grand scheme could have contributed to a brutal loss on the SU resume. But Syracuse was able to press, speed up Georgetown, get some steals and cause some misses, and earn buckets at the other end. The current Syracuse Big 3 were able to score in the 2nd half and the overtime. Battle was able to quite the loud (for this first time this season) home crowd, and Syracuse left DC with a win to remain with only one loss on the season. Syracuse was your winner in Overtime, 86 to 79.
  • No surprise Tyus Battle led all scorers with 29 points. He went off in the last seven minutes of regulation and in the overtime. Notably he was 6-11 from outside the arc. He was also a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line.
  • Oshae Brissett finished with a very respectable 25 points, helped by going 9-12 from the free throw line. He also led Syracuse in rebounding with 14. Just a monster day on the boards. And another double-double.
  • Frank Howard had a bit of an up and down day, but he made plays when it mattered. He finished with 19 points on 9-18 shooting. What really blew up his day was going 0-5 from distance and turning the ball over seven times. Typically when your PG turns the ball over seven times, you aren't going to win many games. Howard made up for that in timely steals and buckets in crunch time. We're going to have to endure some rough times to get to the glory with Howard. I think we're going to revisit this theme a few more times before the season is done.
  • Marek Dolezaj came off the bench and contributed eight rebounds and a few really clutch free throws in overtime to ice the game. He had a scary moment in the second half when he was undercut by a Georgetown player and his head hit the court in a pretty big fall. He seemed to be alright and while it must have hurt, it appears it wasn't anything more than just a good smack.
  • Bourama Sidibe got in the game for 11 minutes, but was pretty worthless on the press and was really unable to catch the ball to contribute on offense. He either just isn't ready to be on the floor for extended minutes, or he is still injured. Or both.
  • Syracuse was outshot in this game 45.6% to 40.6%. But Syracuse was 10-23 on 3 point shooting, unlike Georgetown who made 2-17. A big part of this was Syracuse was able to keep tabs on the shooters and when Syracuse sped Georgetown up with the press, they were looking inside, not taking many outside shots.
  • Syracuse obviously crushed Georgetown on the boards, 44 to 37.
  • Both teams finished with 16 turnovers. Syracuse caused a number with the press. Georgetown earned a bunch by Syracuse just being sloppy.
Syracuse earned a win they needed for many reasons. Yes, it was Georgetown, but due to the fact the Hoyas have the worst non-conference schedule in the nation, they needed to win to avoid a bad loss on the resume. They succeeded. They now head back home to the Dome to finish out their non-conference slate. But a great overtime win, a great 13 point comeback, and the fact it was against Georgetown on their home court made it even sweeter. Sorry Patrick, Georgetown still sucks.

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Syracuse - Georgetown Preview

Syracuse students agree: Your mother's a Hoya.
Syracuse again takes the trek down I-81 to visit with the biggest rival in the history of the program in Georgetown. I'm 34 years old, so I remember a good chuck of this rivalry when it was at it's peak with Big John. But I had my own moments as well. I was at the 2004 "GERRY MAC DROPS ONE ON G'TOWN" game in DC. I was at the 2006 Big East Tournament comeback game. I've been interviewed by the Georgetown student newspaper. While I like that Syracuse still plays UConn (and probably should every year), this is still the rivalry that gets me out of bed in the morning. And I'm sad to say this is the first Syracuse - Georgetown game I won't be attending in person in DC in quite a few years. That being said, I can't wait. The stage is set. While no Thompson is on the bench coaching this team, they still have a very familiar face in Patrick Ewing. Not enough for you? Well how about the fact that Georgetown is undefeated on the season. Because they have played the easiest schedule in the history of college basketball. What about the fact that since Boeheim couldn't coach in DC the last time these two teams met, he's extra fired up about being at this game? Plenty of stories off the court to get you excited for what is going on between the lines today. But it's Syracuse and Georgetown. None of that matters. Syracuse needs to be ready to play today. Because even if Georgetown were a garbage fire of a team, they would play Syracuse tough. These games are always close, even if one team is massively favored over the other. Syracuse will again rely on Tyus Battle to lead the way for the Orange. And again, Syracuse will need some hefty defense inside. What Syracuse has lacked the last couple of seasons against Georgetown was a truly excellent and stiffing Zone defense, that made it hard to get passes into the paint. While they were able to fool the likes of Gonzaga or other big teams with the zone in the last couple of years, it wasn't as sharp as this year's edition. Or a long. Or moved as well. or had exceptional shot blockers at the Five. Syracuse's defense is very good. And Georgetown, despite playing a boatload of cupcakes to start the year, has turned the ball over a lot. While they have a genuine stud in Center Jessie Govan, the question remains of will he be as effective against a tall, athletic center from a team actually in the top 100? Syracuse will obviously face a big and vocal crowd (probably their biggest all year [at least the G'town students can get up for the biggest game on their schedule before 2018]), so it's important to crush their dreams early if they can. And unlike the last few seasons, Syracuse has been able to get off on some strong starts. If Syracuse is able to get some early turnovers and easy buckets, this game could get out of hand for Georgetown and expose them as playing the soft schedule they have. I'd love for that to happen. But this is SU-G'town. I think this will be a grinder of a first half, with Syracuse able to wear them down in the 2nd half and pull away for a nice comfortable victory. I'l definitely picking the Orange in this one. I don't think Syracuse will have a road let down. If they do, it should be in the ACC and not against the soft-serve that G'town has been peddling so far this season. I'm taking the Orange by 14. This game will be nationally televised (as it should be) on CBS at 12:30. If you made the trip, have a few at Clyde's for me. Sad I'm missing it. John is too, since he ventured to Miami a couple weeks ago. I'm venturing out in the real world to watch this game today, so minimal updates from me. But we'll talk soon. Your Mother's A Hoya! GO ORANGE! Also, if you see Matt Glaude, say hello. This is like his Christmas and New Years all rolled into one.

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Kansas - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR No Hot Hand

I traveled to Miami for this game, because I live in a place nothing like Miami.

As you can tell from the picture from my seat, this game wasn't very well attended. Syracuse and Kansas played on Saturday at the Hoophall Miami Invitational at AmericanAirlines Arena (home of the Heat) in just the second rematch of the 2003 National Championship. Geno Thorpe left the program prior to this game, and Kansas entered as the #2 team in the country, so the deck was already stacked against Syracuse. But I figured, hell, maybe some magic will happen. My sister, brother-in-law, and I went to Fado for the Syracuse Alumni Association pregame party (which was very well attended -- maybe too much so) then made our way to the game. Lots of Syracuse fans, lots of Kansas fans, and yet still lots of empty seats. Right off the bat, the officials called a super tight game. Annoyingly tight. But at least it was both ways. Unfortunately that left Syracuse in early foul trouble, particularly with Frank Howard picking up a few early fouls. With Thorpe gone, this gave Howard Washington some minutes. Despite Syracuse finding itself down significant amounts several times in the game, the Orange also showed some grit and determination in battling back. None of these efforts got them close enough, though, with Syracuse ultimately losing 76-60.

  • Tyus Battle lead the way for Syracuse offensively, with 22 points on 7-20 shooting (2-11 from three) playing all 40 minutes. Think those shooting numbers are abysmal? Well, the team wasn't any better: 18-56 for 32.1%.
  • The shooting numbers would have been worse had Syracuse not had a few awesome runs in the second half; first half shooting was 5-23, while second half improved to 13-33. Making those numbers worse was the inability for any shooter to get a three to fall: 6-27 for 22.2% on the game. Look, at some point, you just need to recognize that the three isn't working, and take a different shot. This, as much as anything, prevented Syracuse from truly being competitive in this game.
  • Oshae Brissett also played all 40 minutes and scored 15 points. He was also great on the defensive glass, grabbing eight rebounds there for a total of nine. I feel like he gets better every game with more experience, and he'll be such a force as the season goes on.
  • Despite being somewhat limited in minutes due to foul trouble, Frank Howard still played well, with 15 points and seven assists. It's great to see how he's matured as a player and a team leader since last year, and the fouls that got him in trouble early are not something he should be frustrated over considering the officials were calling things so tight. That was still great production from Frank in 32 minutes.
  • Matthew Moyer continues his struggles. In 17 minutes, he failed to score -- or even attempt a shot -- while missing several assignments on defense. I really just don't know what to say about Moyer. I had such high hopes for him, that his redshirt year last year would allow him to practice with the talent we had, learn the program, and hit the floor running this year. So far, not so much.
  • Paschal Chukwu might not be the liability at the line we thought he was. He somehow hit his first foul shots of the season (of his career?) by going 5-10 from the line. He only hit one shot from the field, but it should have been another, had he been able to throw down the hammer on a dunk. Instead, he totally bricked, "hung" on the rim, and was called for a bullshit technical. Such was this game.
  • Kansas, as several teams tend to do against Syracuse, shot the lights out of the ball. 49.1% for the game, and 35.5% from three. Devonte Graham was the big shooting nemesis, going 7-13 from three for a total of 35 points. As you hear a million times, the 2-3 zone leaves the defense susceptible to the 3-point shot, and Graham just picked his spots and put them up. With the zone, you live with that, as long as the rest of the zone works the way it should. On Saturday, Syracuse couldn't defend the backdoor cuts, the baseline runs, and the lobs. A more experienced front court might be able to do that; it certainly wasn't lack of size.
  • I have a disdain for a lot of opposing fan bases, and antics they pull during the game, but one of the things I've really learned to hate over the years was "Rock Chalk Jayhawk." And sitting at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday night, knowing that chant was inevitable, was excruciating. And hearing it, even worse.
  • That said, I had the stereotypical bad Syracuse fan sitting 2 seats away from me (with an empty seat between us). He was razzing a Kansas fan near us the entire game. His biggest argument was "You're the best Big-12 team, playing the #9 ACC team. You should be beating us by a lot more." First, not true. Second, if that's the best you've got, keep your fucking mouth shut. This Kansas fan, to his credit, wasn't giving back shit, wasn't starting shit, and quite frankly I felt bad for him. Also, Syracuse fan was wearing an orange bucket hat. So he had that going for him.
I stayed for the 2nd game of the night, Miami vs. Princeton. There were maybe 500 people in the arena at tipoff (because Princeton doesn't travel, and Miami fans were a little preoccupied at 8pm on Saturday night but in retrospect probably would have preferred to see a blowout basketball game). We left at halftime of that game, which was quite a snoozer. At any rate, I'm glad I made the trip to Miami. I got to see some friends, went to a South Beach nightclub, visited some local breweries, and Sunday night went back to the arena for Heat vs. Warriors. Sure, I didn't see Syracuse win. But that's not what the weekend was about. If it was, I wouldn't have gone. Despite the fact that there is no JBren Curse on away games, the fact of the matter is I haven't attended a non-Dome Syracuse win in several years. Off the top of my head, I can't even think of the last non-Dome win I attended. I'll have to consult the archives at some point. But don't worry, I won't be at MSG for the UConn game, and I probably won't go to DC for the Georgetown game.

Anyway, Miami is fun. Weather's nice. Go there sometime if you've never been.

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Syracuse - UConn Jimmy V Classic Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse always needs to beat UConn.
Syracuse takes on the rival Connecticut UConn Huskies in the world's most famous arena tonight. A series that should be played every year, Syracuse looks to get back to winning streak with UConn (not UCONN). Both teams are light on depth. A high paced game only benefits Syracuse if they are scoring in transition. Otherwise, it would be the enemy of both. Both teams play their starting five players for a majority, if not all of the 40 minutes. Syracuse has to worry about Jalen Adams, averaging 19.4ppg and leading the team in assists, and Christian Vital, who basically won the game for UConn against Monmouth in overtime recently. But Syracuse also can't sleep on Forward Terry Larrier, who leads the team in 3 point shooting, at 41.7%. If Syracuse is able to defend well, and get points off missed shots in transition, as well as score at the other end, Syracuse should pull away in this game. Syracuse has played tougher teams than UConn and seemed to handle them better than the cupcakes UConn has played. But all that said, Syracuse and UConn always play each other tight, no matter how good each team is. This game will probably be tight. Syracuse needs to not worry about jacking up shots, even if UConn does (and they will). Syracuse needs to play their game and literally stay in their lane. Syracuse needs to drive in the paint and draw fouls or get to the rim. Syracuse has a size advantage over UConn, something that was never really the case historically. Syracuse has a chance to really stifle UConn and only make them take mostly jump shots. Syracuse has to stay active, but also look for the easy baskets or fouls where they can. If Syracuse can get UConn in foul trouble, this game should be over quick. Because it's a pretty short bench for Kevin Ollie. Syracuse has the advantage in a lot of categories, but if UConn can't miss, Syracuse is in trouble. Syracuse needs to find the shooters and cover. If they do, Syracuse will have a great night in the Garden. I'm taking the Orange by 8. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 9:00pm* (*probably like 9:22). It's like a Big East Tournament game, but it's December. And it only matters for resume purposes. UConn... U SUCK! LET'S GO ORANGE!

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Syracuse - Kansas HoopHall Miami Invitational Preview

Syracuse students agree: It would be a huge resume builder to beat Kansas.
Syracuse (and John) are in Miami to see if SU can earn a huge early season win and beat #2 Kansas. Syracuse The last time these two teams played was in 2008 in an early season Tournament. Syracuse beat Kansas 89 to 81. But we all remember the 2003 NCAA Championship and The Block, as the best game Syracuse played against Kansas. Either way, it's 2017 now, and Syracuse is taking on the #2 team in the nation. They are a high powered offense, averaging 94.5 points per game. For contrast, Syracuse is only averaging 74.3 points. But that being said, Syracuse's defense is playing well, limiting opponents to only 59.6 points per game. Syracuse should limit Kansas to below their average. However, Syracuse's shooting woes will probably be exposed a little more in this game. Syracuse was dreadful from behind the arc against Maryland. And frankly, I don't mind that Syracuse is a drive first team. That allows for better passing opportunities for scores, or to rack up fouls. But Syracuse still has to make some. Tyus Battle hit the big 3 in the corner against Maryland when they had to., but that was a rare exception in this game. Syracuse will have to consistently score on offense, and get easy buckets in transition if they want to beat Kansas. I think they will give it a good game, and the defense will be strong, but I think Kansas will probably be just a bit too good today for the Orange. I'm taking Kansas over Syracuse by eight. This game will be available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 5:30pm. John will be reporting live in the stadium, so check out @JBren. I'll be in the home office. I hope Syracuse pulls the upset, but if not, have some fun anyway. Especially if you made the trip. GO ORANGE! 

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