Syracuse’s schedule has been through a lot of shuffling. After initial contests against Lehigh and Cornell were canceled, SU picked up a game against Brown. Then, the Georgia Tech game on Wednesday was postponed, and Cornell filled back into the December 29th slot. So the Orange are going against back to back Ivy schools this week before ringing in the New Year with an ACC showdown with Virginia.
The Ivies might’ve missed all of 2021, but these teams are no slouches. Brown kept it close with UNC until the latter second half, and also took down Colorado. Cornell beat Colgate (yup), but was smoked 93-60 by Virginia Tech in the Big Red’s last contest. Both of these teams are smart (obviously), disciplined and well coached. One would think SU has a distinct advantage over Cornell because of Jimmy Boeheim’s time with the team, but the Big Red could just as easily shut him down after four years of practice against their former teammate. On the Brown side of things, there’s a bit more unknown. SU hasn’t played the Bears since 1986, when Jim Boeheim’s squad won 101-52. That being said, let’s check out some statistics of note with regards to Brown and Cornell.
- 43.8 – The Bears assist on 43.8 percent of made baskets, which is 308th in the nation, according to Kenpom. The 2-3 zone really limits isolation play, which is going to force Brown to do something it doesn’t usually do well: create for others.
- 49 – Kenpom ranks Brown 49th in the nation in defensive turnover percentage, forcing TOs on just over 22% of possessions. Mike Martin’s team plays a high ball pressure, heavy switching man-to-man defense, which will force dribble turnovers, but also leave a lot of space for driving to the basket.
- 31.3 – That’s the percentage of possessions on which sophomore combo guard Dan Friday shoots the ball. Friday, a native of Detroit, can slither to the basket and has some sneaky bounce. He scored 21 against UNC, but has been quiet in the month of December, unable to reach double digits in any of the Bears’ three games.
- 14.2 – In seconds, the average length of a Cornell possession, the quickest in the nation. The Big Red are going to get up and down the floor. After the COVID layoff, SU better be ready to run.
- 15.2 – Unlike Brown, Cornell does not force many turnovers, snatching takeaways on just over 15 percent of possessions. Syracuse should have plenty of time on the ball to get good shots.
- 30.6 – Jimmy Boeheim’s usage rate at Cornell in 2020. The Big Red don’t really have a go-to option in 2021. Jordan Jones is their only player averaging over double digits, and 11 different players are averaging over 4 points per game. However, similarly to Colgate, Cornell is a team that takes a lot of three-pointers, so SU has extend outwards in the zone and prevent another hot run from downtown.