On Saturday, Georgetown makes its first visit to the Carrier Dome since Syracuse left the Big East in 2013. When the Hoyas beat Oregon in November and the Orange still hadn’t lost, it looked like this might be a game between two ranked teams. Instead, the fortunes of both former Big East powerhouses went south and Syracuse and Georgetown are both still working out the dents in the armor. This game would have been one of the biggest on Syracuse’s calendar no matter what had happened up to this point, but now it’s one the Orange needs to get the season back on track. After looking at some of Georgetown’s biggest weaknesses, here’s how SU can come away with a win Saturday.
Control The Pace
Georgetown has a certain style it likes to play: slow. The Hoyas are one of the slowest teams in college basketball. They are No. 314 in the nation in shots per game with just under 54, according to TeamRankings.com. Georgetown relies on the slow pace to keep itself in games. Georgetown took two more shots than Oregon in its win over the Ducks, but Wisconsin took 65 shots in its game against Georgetown (17 more than Hoyas) and won by 16.
Unlike Jim Boeheim, John Thompson III spreads out his minutes. 11 Hoyas average over 10 minutes per game, and only guards L.J. Peak and Rodney Pryor get more than 30. For reference, nine members of the Orange get 15 minutes per game, while the rest of the roster averages less than two. Most of Georgetown’s roster isn’t used to playing fast for an extended period, so if Syracuse can run in transition it will tire out some legs on the other side.
I’ve spent the last week exposing Syracuse’s poor rebounding to all who would listen, but it turns out Georgetown has the same problem. The Hoyas only get 35.1 rebounds per game. Part of that has to do with how sloely Georgetown plays, but a lot of it has to do with Georgetown’s inability to crash the defensive boards. Georgetown only gets the defensive rebound on two-thirds of shots, which is both terrible and almost exactly (67.7 percent to 67.5 percent) what Syracuse gets. The Orange has the size advantage in this matchup, but that hasn’t stopped teams from outrebounding SU before this season. Whoever comes out and wins the rebounding battle will have a big advantage in the game, but neither team has been able to do it with consistency so far.
Play Clean Defense
The Georgetown Hoyas are masters of getting to the free throw line. They shoot the fifth-most and make the second-most free throws of any team in college basketball; it accounts for 28 percent of their points. Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is supposed to keep the interior safe, but when one player is a step behind it gets a lot easier to draw contact. If everyone on the floor plays Jim Boeheim’s defense the way its supposed to be played, Syracuse wins the game.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson