These are heady days for Syracuse Orange fans. We're 26-2, which, on paper, means we should feel cramazing right now. Instead, we're all looking around to make sure there's still a spot for us on the lifeboat…just in case.
We can completely get rid of that feeling (until the next game) by defeating the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday. The win would reassert Syracuse's place atop the ACC food chain, put us in prime position for the top seed in the ACC Tournament and confirm to everyone that Boeheim's Boys aren't done just yet.
But will we? Let's go around the TNIAAM table to find out...
There's absolutely no way this game isn't another blood pressure riser, curse word causing heart attack game. Virginia is on a roll against sub par competition but unlike us, they're at least putting some distance between teams by the five minute mark. Ultimately, this is going to be a game decided by Trevor Cooney's ability to play on the road. If he can nab 15 while everyone else puts up what we expect, the Orange win this one. Alas, I don't think that happens and we look towards C.J. Fair to carry the team through OT.
Syracuse 71 - Virginia 69
It'll get a whole lot worse before it gets better, but luckily, for what seems like the 27th time this season, SU will win a close and ugly one. The Cavaliers are great at defense and actually shoot the ball way better than most teams, but their style fits right in with the Orange's.
Syracuse 58 - Virginia 57
NONE OF US WILL SURVIVE THIS SEASON. Syracuse will win every game from here on out by one point, through Buffalo, New York City, and Dallas. After climbing down the ladder after beating Michigan State in the National Championship and cutting down the nets, Boeheim will walk to center court, bow, and vanish into thin air. We are nearing "The Prestige."
Syracuse 64 - Virginia 63
Big game for the Orange, who I think will really give the Cavs fits defensively. I don't see as many shooters to get worried about and inside I like the way our guys are playing (if healthy). I have good feelings that UVA's winning streak needs to end And this is the game that will be it.
Syracuse 63 - Virginia 59
My prediction - prolonged anxiety, a few heart attacks, some nail biting and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, you mean the score? I've got Syracuse winning, 62-54. It's going to be a real struggle, guys...maybe even a bunker game. In a few ways, the Cavaliers mirror what the Orange do. They don't score a lot, but they score enough. Three of their wins this month have been within five points. They have a point guard who doesn't turn the ball over. Sound familiar? And it seems like all this would make me pick the Cavs. But there's this strange feeling I get seeing how quickly people have turned on Syracuse. How quickly, people focus on the two losses, while forgetting the other 26 games. I see Tyler Ennis making a few clutch plays late in the game and reminding everyone why Syracuse is still a title contender.
Syracuse 62 - Virginia 54
I think it's going to be a slugfest. Virginia scores 66 points per game, 294th in the nation. Relatively speaking, Syracuse lights up the scoreboard with 69 PPG, good for 241st. Couple those lights-out offenses (because both teams shoot as if the lights are actually off) with stifling defenses, and we could be looking at a low-scoring rock fight of a game.
Syracuse 55 - Virginia 50
I normally stay over on the football side of the TNIAAM prediction fence, but when Sean taps his right arm and looks to the bullpen, I answer the call. #nextguyin
Thomas Jefferson, the father of The University of Virginia, was a renaissance man for many reasons, notwithstanding his skill as an architect. Indeed, Mr. Jefferson developed a unique style of architectural design that took elements of Neo-Classicism and Neo-Palladianism, featuring octagonal forms as a central feature in his designs. What does this have to do with basketball, you ask? Well, my friends, the octagon is a fitting analogy for Virginia basketball...we're going to enter the cage, bloody the knuckles for 40 minutes, and hope like hell we manage just enough offense to out-score a team that plays defense as well as any team we've faced in a long time. It won't be pretty. It won't be fun. Stitches and ice packs may be involved, and that's just for the folks watching at home!
I don't know how we'll do it, but we will do it...pretty much just like we've done nearly all season.
Syracuse 52 - Virginia 50
I want to pick Syracuse. I really do. But have you watched this team lately? In order for the Orange to beat Virginia, at least one forward and one guard need to be shooting well (pick any) and we have to be able to shut down the Hoos' Malcolm Brogdon. At 6'5", he's got the length to really challenge the zone, and he has a penchant for both a hot shooting hand and grabbing a significant amount of boards. If he and Joe Harris can start getting to the basket (and they have the ability to do so), this is going to be a long afternoon for Syracuse. Like we've seen lately, if you let them shoot the lights out from three, you need to shut down the paint. Virginia just might have enough weapons to exploit SU both inside and outside, though, albeit barely.
Virginia 61 - Syracuse 59
Frenetic, low scoring, and whoever scores more points in transition wins. (And that will be Syracuse just because UVa is doing a white out. #Science.) A wildly paced sub-60-point game is what you get when two teams are solid on defense and iffy on offense. Sound familiar? Once upon a time, I predicted how Syracuse and UVa would match up. Just sticking to my guns. Though, for the record, I am jumping on the Jeremy Ryan "first team to 50 may win" interview gem. Right on, my friend. Of course, this all goes out the window if Syracuse or UVa actually makes shots for a change, but I'm not one for entertaining such crazy talk.
Syracuse 58 - Virginia 57
Momentum, logic and your eyeballs probably tell you that Syracuse is going to lose this game. The Orange have looked rough even in victory while the Cavs are completely rolling right now. The game is being played in a hostile Hoo environment and all signs point to a UVA victory. And that's why it ain't gonna happen. College basketball is weird. It's the kind of sport where, after almost a month of struggle, the Orange can put it all together in a game they're not supposed to. Virginia's right about at the point where it can start buying into it's own hype and, well, Syracuse fans know a little thing about that. Bad things happen right about then. Don't know how, don't know why but Syracuse comes away with the heart-attack inducing victory.
Syracuse 55 - Virginia 52
Now it's your turn...