We’re smack dab in the middle of not only the most tumultuous but also one of the most fun times of the year. It’s the crossover between football and basketball season at Syracuse and even though things are on a big-time down turn for Dino Babers and company and it’s been a bit of an up and down start to the year for Jim Boeheim’s squad, there are still some interesting things to look forward to.
Can football pull off a miraculous three-game winnings streak to become bowl eligible? Which version of Syracuse (Virginia or Colgate) most closely resembles what we’re actually going to see for the remainder of the season.
The answer to these questions and any other ones we may have on our minds will start to become clearer on Saturday as part of a huge doubleheader for both squads. Here’s everything you need to know about both of those matchups.
FOOTBALL vs DUKE
Where: Durham, NC – Wallace Wade Stadium
When: 4:00 p.m.
How to Watch: ACC Network with Wes Durham, Roddy Jones and Eric Wood
The Matchup: Both of these teams are in desperate need of a win. For Syracuse, it’s win or the season is over. The Orange enter the matchup at 3-6 on the season and they quite literally need to win every single game the rest of the way to become bowl-eligible. Even if they do find a way to win on Saturday (which is going to be tough), the rest of the schedule isn’t easy with a road game against a much-improved Louisville team and a senior day matchup with Wake Forest still on the horizon.
Duke is in a similar must-win situation at 4-5 with difficult matchups against Wake and Miami still on the schedule and unlike SU, this is a team that is used to going to bowl games. The Blue Devils have had a postseason berth in six of the last seven seasons with only 2016 having no bowl berth. A loss here would seriously harm their chances of repeating it.
Opponent to Watch: Redshirt senior quarterback Quentin Harris is everything for this Blue Devils team. Ever since their season-opening loss to Alabama when they didn’t score a touchdown, Duke has scored 30 offensive touchdowns over their last eight games. Harris has accounted (14 pass, 6 rush) for 20 of those touchdowns. In three of the Blue Devils four wins this season, Harris has thrown for at least 175 yards and scored two touchdowns. In four of the five losses he’s failed to go over 165 yards or account for multiple TDs. However he goes, the rest of the team will go, so if SU wants to keep their bowl chances alive, they need to shut him down.
BASKETBALL vs SEATTLE
Where: Syracuse, NY – Carrier Dome
When: 7:00 p.m.
How to Watch: ACC Network Extra with Brian Higgins and Matt Roe
The Matchup: In the first ever meeting between SU and Seattle, we’ll see a first-time starter at point guard for the Orange. Coach Boeheim announced that true freshman Joe Girard III will get the start over Jalen Carey on Saturday night after Carey struggled immensely through the first two games. Girard’s numbers haven’t exactly been eye-popping with a combined 8 points on 3-12 (2-8 from three) shooting through the season’s first two games, but he’s done the little things (six assists, three steals) well enough to be named the starter. The offense has looked much more poised and confident with him on the floor, so we’ll see if the ‘Cuse can avoid going down early like they have the past two games.
As for Seattle, this will already be its fifth game of the 2019-20 season as it enters Saturday with a 2-2 record. The Redhawks have book-ended losses to Washington State (85-54) and Eastern Washington (74-66, a team SU beat by more than 30 last year in the Dome) with wins over D3 Pacific Lutheran (98-64) and Pacific University (115-81). This will be their first game against an ACC opponent since a shellacking at the hands of Notre Dame (92-49) in 2016.
Opponent to Watch: Redshirt junior guard Terrell Brown was the Redhawks leading scorer from last year and he’s come back with a vengeance this fall. As noted by sports investing expert Ghost Insights, the Seattle, WA native transferred to SU from Shoreline Community College prior to last season and has been a revelation since, leading the team with 14.1 ppg last year and coming out to a blistering pace of 22.5 points per game this season. Not the best shooter in the world (31% last year, 1-4 so far this year), Brown is going to try to beat opponents off the dribble and take it to the rim. He’s also an excellent passer who averaged nearly five assists per game a season ago. With a new starter at the opposite point guard spot, Brown could be set up for a huge game.
ONE FINAL NOTE. The Syracuse women’s basketball team is also in action tomorrow afternoon. The undefeated and No. 20 Orange host in-state rival Albany at 1:00 p.m. This is the final tuneup for head coach Quentin Hillsman and company before their much-anticipated matchup with reigning Wooden Award winner Sabrina Ionescu and No. 1 Oregon next Sunday.