In college basketball, this is the part of the year where tournament resumes are made. Conference play is in full swing, and the best teams in college basketball are going head-to-head. For Syracuse, it’s no different. The Orange are the fifth team out of the NCAA Tournament, according to Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology, and in need of some ACC wins.
Starting tomorrow, the Orange has a stretch of four games that are all winnable and would go a long way to making Syracuse a tournament team again. All four are at home, and three of four will be shown on the ESPN family of networks. It’s a perfect opportunity to show the home crowd and the country what this team has to offer.
Here’s a look at what Syracuse will have to do to take home the “W” in each of those games.
Tomorrow night’s game is not only “Dress Like Coach Boeheim Night” at the Carrier Dome, but also a game against a ranked opponent (the Irish just made it into the No. 25 spot in this week’s AP poll). It seems like every time the Orange get beat up in the paint there’s one player in particular who dominates, and that player for Notre Dame could be Zach Auguste; the 6-10 senior averages a double-double with 13.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. The Irish are a big team as a whole and Syracuse will need to keep rebounding as a team to keep up. Notre Dame is one of the best in the country at not turning the ball over, but the Irish doesn’t shoot much from behind the arc. If Syracuse can pack the zone a little tighter than usual and force the turnovers it has been all year, the adversity could be enough to catch Notre Dame off guard.
Syracuse should be able to beat Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets only have one ACC win on the year, but it did come against Virginia. Georgia Tech is another team who takes care of the ball well and is a top 25 rebounding team, so the formula for beating the Yellow Jackets is very similar to beating Notre Dame (and a number of other teams). Play good defense, rebound, and make your shots.
Unile Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech does not rebound the ball well (they rank 276th in defensive rebound percentage). The Hokies like to work the ball inside and get to the free throw line, which could spell trouble for Syracuse’s big men (or lack thereof). The Orange needs to make sure Tyler Lydon and Dajuan Coleman stay out of foul trouble so at least one of them is on the court at all times. The less Chino Obokoh plays, the better. The Hokies have also been susceptible to teams that can shoot this year, which works well for the Orange.
Florida State is 3-5 in the ACC, but its only quality win came over Virginia. 7-foot-3 Boris Bojanovsky is what scares Orange fans at first glance, but he isn’t what runs this team. Florida State’s top three leading scorers are all guards, so it’ll be a matchup of strength against strength in this matchup. Get Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson playing good defense and hitting threes (which the Seminoles give up a lot of) and Syracuse should head to Boston College on a win streak.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson