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Syracuse - Boston College Preview

 Syracuse students agree: Another must win, but also no one wants to lose to BC.
Syracuse heads to Chestnut Hill to take on the Eagles of Boston College. Stop me if you heard this one before, but this is a must win game. Syracuse was able to win in the Dome over BC 81 to 63, in their best offensive performance of the year up to that point. Syracuse will need a similar effort tonight in BC, a place where Syracuse didn't play very well last year on New Year's Day. Literally, one of the worst games SU had last year. And while BC isn't Pittsburgh, they still aren't the best team in the league. And Syracuse being on the bubble need wins. The good news is that Jim Christian, by all accounts, isn't a very good coach, so unless Syracuse can't make anything and BC bombing 3s, Syracuse is in a good position to win the game. Syracuse again needs to stop Jerome Robinson, Ky Bowman, and Jordan Chatman. If Syracuse is able to stop them, they will win the game. Syracuse again shot very well against BC in the Dome, and in the two previous games before the Duke abomination on Saturday. And let's face it, BC isn't going to have as good of a defense as Duke. Tyus Battle and Frank Howard had good games against BC last time, and while I think Frank Howard will have a good game, I think BC will make more of an effort to key in on Battle, which will give more opportunity for Brissett (who was virtually non-existent against Duke), Dolezaj, and even Chukwu the ability to get points in this game. I think this will go exactly like it did in the Dome. A tight game in the first half, with Syracuse breaking the game open with about 12 minutes to go in the 2nd half. I think Brissett gets hot, and makes up for the defense keying in on Battle again. I'm taking the Orange by 17. This game is available regionally at 9:00pm. For those, who can't watch on TV, WatchESPN. I'll be in the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill (not Boston), for what will probably be another usual dismal showing from the BC Students. John will be in the Home Office. GO ORANGE! For Boston, for Boston...

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Syracuse - Duke Preview

Syracuse students agree: Beating Duke at Duke is always huge.
Syracuse let UNC escape on Wednesday night, in what would have been a big win on the year. Now, another opportunity presents itself on the road in Durham, as Syracuse takes on Duke. However, this one will be tougher, as Syracuse hasn't exactly smoked other teams on the road. With the exception of the game at Miami, Syracuse has definitely struggled on the road this season. That being said, in the last two games, Syracuse has played very well in the 2nd half of both games on offense, and the defense has been fairly decent over the stretch. Syracuse did struggle on the boards (of course) versus UNC, and allowed some big shots, but overall they played enough on defense to be able to win. Syracuse will have to play some really great defense against Duke's shooters if they want to win. Duke is the best 3 point shooting team in the ACC, and have 3 legitimate shooting threats. And playing against a Zone certainly would indicate that they have the advantage. But the interesting matchup really is Duke's 2-3 Defense against the Syracuse offense. Syracuse's strength on offense is when Battle, Howard, or Brissett are able to drive to the basket. 2-3 makes it harder to do that, and gives open looks on a Syracuse team that seems to want to shoot, but they aren't very good at shooting overall. That is a recipe for disaster for Syracuse. And the fact that Syracuse Lacrosse won in 3 OT today means Duke is probably winning by 30 (not really but possibly). Either way, while I think Syracuse could make this game close, I just don't think it will be. I'm taking Duke at home over the Orange by 14. Syracuse will have to win their next 2 to finish the year, and then win 1 game in the ACC Tournament to probably make the Dance. Either way, this game is on ESPN at 6:00pm(ish). Also available on WatchESPN. John is probably watching, but he may still be celebrating that lax win, as he was in the Dome today. I'm in the home office. LET'S GO ORANGE!

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North Carolina - Syracuse Preview


Syracuse students agree: This win would be the biggest of the year.
Syracuse is obviously on the bubble. The Miami win on Saturday was big, but Syracuse still has work to do. Syracuse could really make a huge step forward with a home win against UNC. There are two key matchups in this game. Syracuse interior defense vs. UNC's 2 point offense, and the rebounding battle. Syracuse is 7th in the nation in 2 point defense. UNC is shooting slightly better than 50% on their 2 point field goals. Something has to give. However, I actually give the edge, especially at home, to Syracuse on this one. Syracuse's defense has been stout the last few games, and nothing has indicated that it will falter in the half court. The key is for Syracuse to get back and actually set up the zone and not allow easy buckets for UNC. However, the best rebounding team in the league is UNC. While Syracuse has been decent in rebounding, they haven't been bullet proof when it comes to the boards. If Syracuse has a bad day, they probably aren't winning this game. The good news is Syracuse is much taller than UNC, so that should help keep it close at least. I think UNC will probably edge Syracuse in rebounding however. Either way, at home in front of a big crowd, I think Syracuse will win a very close game. I'm taking the Orange by 2. This game is available on national TV on ESPN at 7:00pm. Also available on WatchESPN. John will definitely be in the Dome. I'm in the home office. Win and they are probably in. Lose... and there is a lot of work to be done. GO ORANGE!

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Syracuse - Miami Preview

Syracuse students agree: Do or die time. Again.
Syracuse had a winable home game against NC State on Wednesday, but they didn't get the job done. They missed shots, didn't rebound, and most importantly they did not defend the 3 point line. Now Syracuse heads to Miami to take on a 'Caines team that is playing well, but is only slightly better in the standings than Syracuse. However, they seem to be playing a lot better than the Orange right now, even after a narrow loss to Virginia. Syracuse is still 4th in the ACC in 3 point defense, but again the last two games have been dreadful, allowing Wake to rattle off a bunch despite Syracuse winning, but it caught up to Syracuse allowing six 3 point buckets in the 2nd half from one player alone. Despite being young and able to play 40 minutes, it seems like the depth issues have caught up with the Orange. Not that they can't play the 40 minutes just fine, because they can. I just mean in terms of player injuries and fouls. There just aren't more players able to come in. But the point is, Syracuse hasn't been defending as well lately (their major strength) as they have been, which allowed NC State to win. Junior Guard Anthony Lawrence II is shooting 46.3% from 3 this season. Syracuse must find him if they want to try and win the game. Interestingly, Miami only averages about 5.5 ppg more than the Orange, so it isn't like Miami has been lighting up the scoreboard either. That being said, Miami is at home, and despite having a better offense lately for Syracuse, I have no faith that they can get it done on the road at this point in the season. Chukwu tweaked his back on the last game and Sidibe isn't a reliable scorer as of yet either. I just think there are way too many factors favoring Miami. I think the Hurricanes win this one by nine. This game is available nationally on CBS at 12:00pm. John is in the home office. I'm probably not going to be on the Tweets for this one, so tune to John for your 30 ----> Full fix. GO ORANGE!

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NC State - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse has to defend the home court.
Syracuse did what they had to do. They beat Wake Forest on Sunday. Now another ACC bubble team comes in with the NC State Wolfpack. They have been streaky as of late, earning a huge win against UNC on the road, and beating Notre Dame, before losing to VTech and then UNC. Syracuse, on the other hand, is on a two game win streak, looking to make it three. Syracuse will need to do a couple things. You know, the answer first is to rebound the ball well. Syracuse cannot afford to give teams extra possessions when points are at a premium for the Orange. But they also need to stop the Big Men and drive to the basket in this game. Defending the paint will be key for Syracuse. NC State isn't a great shooting team from outside the arc. I would label them as fair. That means, the majority of points for NC State come off of easier baskets by their center, and from their leading scorer Allerik Freeman. A grad transfer, he leads the Wolfpack in scoring, mostly from drives to the basket. The 2-3 needs to be active and make easy shots more difficult and they need to gobble up rebounds. If Syracuse is able to do that, Syracuse should win this game that they are surprisingly (although not that surprisingly as they are at home) favored to win this game. Syracuse needs to keep positive contributions from Chukwu going, as well as be ever conscious of the foul situation for each player on the floor. Syracuse may have Sidibe available tonight, and possibly Moyer, but they are no guarantee. Easy buckets when they are available, and rebounding will be key, just like a lot of games this season. But I think this game will actually come down to the Syracuse's defense and their ability to make stops and get rebounds, rather than just if they can somehow score more points than the other team. Deep, but true. Anyway, I'm taking the Orange at home against a team they should be able to handle. Syracuse over NC State by 6. This game is available regionally at 9:00pm. Check your local listings here. If you aren't blacked out, you can stream on WatchESPN, or on TheACC.com here for anyone. No blackout. John is in the Dome. I'll be in the past as this game isn't on TV in Massachusetts this evening. GO ORANGE!

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Picture of coaching staff who made it to the end of the game wearing their jackets
Where to start? Well, OK, Syracuse won. I guess that mention trumps everything else. But this wasn't exactly a pretty win. I suppose the Selection Committee doesn't look at pretty vs. ugly, so, who cares? Still, how Syracuse beat Wake Forest 78-70 was both impressive and surprising, considering what the Orange had to work with. Prior to the game, it was announced that Matthew Moyer would not be available, with his ankle injury hurting him too much. We heard Bourama Sidibe would be available if necessary. So, walking into the Dome, we contemplated the possibility of a 5-man rotation which, per the typical rules of the game, wouldn't be a rotation. As it happened, Bourama played 17 big minutes off the bench, and walk-on-turned-scholarship-player Braedon Bayer clocked four. Everything Coach Boeheim was able to get out of these seven players on Sunday culminated in that eight-point win.

  • Where would this team be without Tyus Battle? For all of the shortfalls in his game (which, think about it, he hasn't hit his ceiling yet!!), he does some special things out there to put up stats. His 34 points Sunday led the team -- all players -- and was a personal best at the Carrier Dome. He was 10-18 from the floor, including 3-4 from three, while also grabbing four rebounds, dishing four assists, and registering a steal. He's also one of Syracuse's iron men (as he has been for most games) playing all 40 minutes.
  • Oshae Brissett registered the team's only double-double, with 15 points and ten rebounds. Those points didn't come easy though: 3-11 from the floor and 1-4 from three. It was his 8-10 from the line that accounted for most of his points. Iron man minutes. Oshae is still one of my favorite players on the team and while he sometimes doesn't play like it, I have to often remind myself that he's a freshman and has such a potential to dominate in future seasons.
  • Frank Howard is such an enigma. On the one hand, he's far and away improved from last year, and on the whole plays great with pretty consistent double-digit scoring games; on the other hand, he still makes a lot of mistakes and is susceptible to falling into horrible shooting ruts. On Sunday, he played all 40 minutes, scored twelve points, nine assists, and five steals. Solid. But he was 4-10 from the line. As a team, Syracuse was 26-39 from the line.
  • That stat's not great. But, consider the 39 attempts -- 39! The Orange was more active on offense than that last game at the Dome (vs. UVA) but not quite as active as last Monday at Louisville. Still though, it wasn't just standing around, passing around the perimeter, and taking a crappy long shot at the end of the shot clock; it was good ball movement, good moving around, and as evidenced by the 39 free throw attempts a lot of driving to the basket. So, had Syracuse been just a little better at the line, I think the perception of this win would've been a lot better -- Wake wouldn't have gotten the score as close as they did in the waning minutes of the game, and Syracuse would have been viewed as dominating the game.
  • Of course, the other thing that aided that "holy crap how is Wake making a game of this" feel was their out of control scoring from three. In the first half, Wake was 1-10 from three -- 10%! -- and that was on a heave as the first half clock expired. Then, about halfway through the second half, Wake players Mitchell Wilbekin and Bryant Crawford simply went off. They, along with Keyshawn Woods (with one) rattled off six consecutive threes, which helped Wake come to within two points with 4:24 to go. From there on out, Syracuse was just trying to create a cushion. Thankfully, they did.
And so, Syracuse avoids a bad loss at home. I was starting to have flashbacks to the Notre Dame game from early January, so I'm very glad the same result and disappointment didn't materialize. With another couple healthy scholarship players in the rotation, Syracuse would certainly have the depth and abilities to be a tournament team, and one that could maybe go far. But that lack of depth, more than anything, is going to doom the Orange a month from now.

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Wake Forest - Syracuse Preview w/ some Lacrosse Talk

Syracuse students agree: lacrosse & basketball in the same weekend is fun!

Wake Forest comes to the Carrier Dome on Sunday for an ACC basketball game. But before then, Saturday is the season opener for the men's lacrosse team, with a tilt against Interstate-81 rival Binghamton. So I'll talk about that first.

The biggest question as we start the lax season is, how much did the mumps epidemic this fall impact the ability of the team to adequately prepare for the season? Honestly, I'm expecting the answer to be minimally to none. These are elite college athletes. They know how to play. Any missed practice/scrimmage time in the fall would only affect team cohesiveness -- something they've no doubt been able to figure out with practices and scrimmages this spring. Instead, let's focus on the relative youth of this team. While there are only a handful of true seniors and redshirt seniors, they're a solid core around which this team can build. Plus, despite what a certain portion of the fan base keeps clamoring, John Desko is a good coach. Binghamton is primed to have a great season, but there's no real reason to think Syracuse would lose to the Bearcats. Let's just hope Syracuse can win with better than a one-goal lead, to buck last year's trend. The game is at 1:00pm EST and is available internet-only on ACC Network Extra beginning two minutes after reality. If you're not heading up to the Dome, check out the "live" stream or catch me on the tweets.

Starting around 3:30pm, the Carrier Dome staff will begin the task they do oh-so-well: converting the field from lacrosse to basketball, with plenty of time for Sunday's 1:00pm tip against Wake Forest. At 9-15 on the season, 2-10 in ACC play, Wake is having a rough go of it this season. But if you look at some team stats, without looking at records or knowing anything about these teams, you might think Wake is the better team on paper. Chalk that up to the abysmal Orange offense. However, that offense experienced a resurrection on Monday against Louisville -- and with the rest of the week off since then, I will be cautiously optimistic about another great offensive showing. If there's a Demon Deacon poised to kill Syracuse, it's likely Bryant Crawford, who doesn't shy away from attempting threes. He's shooting that at a 36.4% clip this season, so even if he gets hot, the Orange will still need to contain the others with that shut down zone defense, and play smart on the other end. Tyus Battle and Frank Howard played great against the Cardinals, and will need to continue to carry this team on their backs. It's a short (if even existent) bench for Jim Boeheim, so avoidance of further injuries, or foul trouble, is essential to victory. Brian's shielding his pasty white skin from the rays in the DR but picks Syracuse by eight; I'll be in the Dome and pick Syracuse by eleven. The game's at 1:00pm on the ACC Network, so check out your local affiliates here. Glad I'll be in the Dome to once again avoid my local affiliate's standard definition feed in 2018.

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Syracuse - Louisville Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse must start winning games.
Syracuse heads to L'ville to take on the the Cards. Syracuse played a very good team in Virginia on Saturday. But they somehow played them very close at Virginia, and just laid a stinker at home. Syracuse needs some (any) production from the 5 spot besides when Dolezaj is in the spot. Chukwu needs to rebound, but really he needs to score. Syracuse obviously needs points, and to get nothing from the two centers is a sure fire way to lose a game. Syracuse needs to play defense and rebound. Otherwise, Syracuse is going to lose big. I just don't trust this team can score though. And being on the road makes it even worse. I'm taking L'ville by 14. This game is available nationally on ESPN / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. Both John and I are in the home office. See you out there.

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