The Orange will pack its bags and hit the road for the first time in almost two weeks. Syracuse’s only remaining home games are against North Carolina State, Boston College and Georgia Tech. In all of them, the Orange will be favored by more than a few points. However, the major remaining tests will all come on the road:
- No. 25 Pittsburgh, Tomorrow February 12 – The Panthers, 20-4, have played well in their first year in the ACC. Their only losses in conference play have come against upper echelon ACC teams such as Syracuse, Virginia and Duke. Lamar Patterson is averaging over 17 points a game, while Talib Zanna will look to exploit SU’s weakness in the paint, especially if Baye Moussa Keita cannot play. And of course there is the environment. The Oakland Zoo has given the Orange some problems before and is one of the hardest venues to play in all of college basketball. Trevor Cooney mentioned that it feels like “they are right on top of you,” referring to the student section.
- No. 8 Duke, February 22 – There will be one word in every Duke players’ mind when the Orange visits Durham: “revenge.” Syracuse played one of the best games in Carrier Dome history recently, knocking off Duke in overtime with a record-setting crowd on hand. Duke has since beaten Wake Forest and Boston College and travels down Tobacco Road tomorrow to face archrival North Carolina. Jabari Parker has been stellar, averaging 19 points and 8.5 boards on the year. The Orange will have to control the Blue Devils’ three-point game to walk out of Cameron Indoor with a win. Duke hit 15 shots from behind the arc at the Dome, including Rasheed Sulaimon’s game-tying shot at the end of the second half. This will also be the first time in program history Syracuse plays Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Controlling game speed will be crucial for the Orange.
- No. 17 Virginia, March 1 – The Cavaliers have played tremendous basketball and are in a spot nobody believed they would be at this point in the season. Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris had other ideas, averaging 12.1 and 11.3 PPG, respectively. Akil Mitchell, a senior, is also averaging almost seven boards per contest. There is one commonality between the two teams besides team colors. Both squads are among the best defensive teams in the nation. The Wahoos give up an average of only 56 points per game to their opponents. The Orange will have to tighten up the zone and go on runs when they have the opportunity. Virginia does not play another ranked opponent until its matchup with Syracuse.
With talks already beginning about how far fans think the Orange will go, Syracuse will need to continue their motto all season.
“We’re just trying to focus on getting better each game and peaking at the right moment,” said Tyler Ennis after the Clemson game. We’ll see how the Orange handles the pressure that is about to come its way.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell