Before the No. 9 Syracuse Orange take the court on the U.S.S. Midway to battle the No. 20 San Diego St. Aztecs, we need to decide if we think this SU team will carry high the legacy of the one before it or if the Aztecs and their triple-threat guard attack is going to be too much, too soon.
Before we turn to the TNIAAM experts for their predictions, a reminder to head over to All Star Sports Card in Destiny USA and submit a game prediction before tip. You'll be entered to win a sweet Syracuse mug, just the first of many prizes they'll be handing out to TNIAAM readers this year. And remember that they're offering 10% off to anyone who mentions TNIAAM with their purchase.
On to the predictions!
This should be a really fun game to watch not just because WERE ON A BOAT but because these are two genuinely good teams with a lot of young talent. I think the key to watch is how well Triche and MCW make decisions against legitimate competition and work together on the floor. DC and Rak have the physical advantage to really overcome any learning curve they may have in this game. The travel is annoying but in reality I don't see Syracuse being frazzled by anything SD State can offer.
Orange 75 - Aztecs 70
Even though the game has been pushed back to avoid the rain, it will still be played outdoors in mid-60 degree weather, which is about 10 degrees cooler than a typical gym/arena/dome. You'd also expect some wind, being literally on the ocean. The weather, coupled with the nerves of the season's first game, will probably help to keep scoring down. I can see Syracuse playing great swarming zome defense and getting plenty of fast break opportunities for a ten point win.
Syracuse 60 - SDSU 50
A new season of optimism begins for Syracuse basketball. I'm bullish on the team because I think the individual skills of the players mesh well together. DaJuan Coleman and Brandon Triche play together for the first time since their high school days. CJ Fair and Michael Carter-Williams will have the microscope on them and Trevor Cooney finally makes his much anticipated debut. Don't discount SDSU though. Guard Jamaal Franklin averaged 17 and 8 for the Aztecs last year and they also add super athletic forward Dwayne Polee. It's extremely rare Jim Boeheim ever opens with a ranked team. Syracuse has too much firepower and overwhelm SDSU in the second half.
Syracuse 83 - San Diego State 69
I have no clue. Seriously. They're playing this game on the deck of a battleship, and as I've never seen Syracuse play basketball on a Freedom Machine, I'm worried about the results. Plus, all the weird ground rules concomitant with basketball on a carrier: The mess hall is out of bounds, if you insult the Admiral that's a technical, and if you fall into the ocean you're dead.
I guess I'll take Syracuse for the win, 65-53.
We actually have a simple assignment against San Diego State: stop Jamaal Franklin. Whether we can pull it off or not is a completely different story. I've always liked Triche's defensive intensity at the guard position, but we all know that won't be enough. While Franklin certainly won't be "stopped" by the zone, I do think that Syracuse's length along the baseline should at least slow him down. On offense, Syracuse will need to establish the tempo early and continue getting the ball to MCW on the wings. It won't be easy, but Syracuse manages to pull off a rare victory away from the Empire's growing city-state.
Prediction: Syracuse 73, SDSU 68
I'm kinda with Glaude on this one. I know that on paper, we're the better team, but they don't play games on paper, they play them on old timey aircraft carriers. At the end of the day, our frontcourt should be able to dominate on rebounds and scoring in the paint. That should offset any advantage Franklin takes. If the Aztecs get a hot-hand from three we could be in trouble, but then again, considering the outdoor conditions, it's hard to believe anyone will be shooting too many threes. I look for Syracuse to win a very close, well-played game as we officially annex San Diego.
Syracuse 68 - San Diego St. 64