The Orange and Jayhawks will each put their respective perfect records on the line when they clash at American Airlines Arena in the Miami Hoops Invitational Saturday. It is undoubtably Syracuse’s biggest test of the young season and both teams’ second contest with a co-Power 5 team in the non-conference schedule. Here are the most important things to know before the teams tip-off.
ACC Championship Appetizer: Tip-off between the Orange and Jayhawks is scheduled for 5:30 PM on ESPN. Presumably, the game was scheduled this way to lead right into the ACC Championship football game at 8 o’clock, which, to everyone’s surprise, the Orange are not participating in. It will be Syracuse’s first game this season that airs on ESPN (the Maryland game was on ESPN 2) and it will come on the air immediately following Kentucky-Harvard, which is scheduled for 3:30.
Looking to Make it Three in a Row: Every Syracuse fan remembers when these two teams met in the National Championship game in New Orleans in 2003. What some fans may not remember is that they two teams have met since then, with the Orange beating the Jayhawks 89-81 in overtime back on November 25, 2008. That game was technically neutral site, but it was played in Kansas City, Missouri, so as you can imagine, it was much closer to a Kansas home game than a Syracuse one. That meeting is the only time that the Orange have played Kansas since Bill Self took over for Roy Williams. The three meetings prior to 2008 (1996, 2001, 2003) were all in the NCAA tournament and the first ever meeting between the two schools (way back in 1968) was a road game for the Orange. Syracuse has won three out of the five prior meetings and is looking to make it three straight wins over Kansas with a win Saturday.
What’s At Stake: The technical answer is the Miami Hoops Invitational Championship. What that really means is that nothing is at stake other than a chance for Syracuse to get an absolutely massive, resume-boosting win in non-conference play. If the Orange lose, it will hardly be damaging because they are going into this game as massive underdogs. Any positives that Syracuse can take out of this game is a nice bonus.
What The Experts Are Saying: As of late morning Friday, there is no betting line available for Saturday’s game but ESPN has used their advanced metrics to predict the game and give Syracuse a 13% chance to pull off the big upset. In honor of the now unemployed former coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, David Fizdale, take that for data.