At this point, Syracuse’s season cannot get any worse. There have been flashes of individual brilliance, but we have yet to see the Orange play a complete game against a quality opponent.
It is time to stop beating the dead horse that is “this is the game where Syracuse can turn its season around!” Here are the facts: Miami is a fringe Top 25 team and SU has yet to beat a Power Five team. The window for the Orange to make the tournament is ajar at best, but these are the games that Syracuse needs to win so desperately if it wants to build any sort of resume for March. Here are the three things SU needs to do to hang with the Hurricanes:
Win the Offensive Rebounding Battle
The Hurricanes excel on the offensive boards, averaging nearly 13 per game and grabbed a season-high 16 in their conference opener against North Carolina State. Defensive rebounding has not been the Orange’s strong suit thus far and if it struggles to box out from the zone, it could be a long night. Conversely, Miami is not a superb defensive rebounding team and the Orange need all the second chances it can get. Tyler Roberson broke out last game with eight offensive boards. If the senior can piece together another solid night on the glass, Syracuse can hang around.
Defend the Three
Syracuse’s three point defense is already pretty good, allowing opponents to connect on just 30.6 percent of their attempts. The Hurricanes do not shoot a lot of threes (23rd fewest attempts in the country), but when they are efficient with their deep balls, they win games. Both of Miami’s losses came when it shot under 30 percent from behind the arc. The Orange will have to be 0.6 percent better tonight.
Slow Down the Game
The Orange is not going to win a shootout with the Hurricanes. Miami is supremely talented defensively and ranks near the top in most statistical categories. The Hurricanes lost both of their games when they were held under 60 points. Syracuse must control the pace of the game and not allow Miami to up the tempo and capitalize on SU’s turnovers.
The uphill battle for Syracuse sits at a 90-degree angle, but a win tonight would check off the first of many boxes to put the Orange in the March conversation.