Game two! It feels like just two days ago, it was game one (it was), but here we are, up against the MEAC's Hampton Pirates. For those who may have forgotten, the game's at 4 p.m. ET at the Carrier Dome. For those who can't make it to campus (for various reasons), the game is conveniently airing on ESPNU as well. So you have virtually no excuse now for avoiding watching your Syracuse Orange.
Below, Parks Smith (who you should follow on Twitter) from SB Nation's Mid-Major Madness, stops by to chat all about Hampton basketball, and offer up a prediction for what may happen during today's matchup. Join us below:
How does Hampton get by without a force of a player like Du'Vaughn Maxwell?
Maxwell was definitely a long, athletic beast who posted almost 15 points and 7 boards a a year ago but it seems as if Hampton is a better all-around unit this year. I think a couple of guys will start to fill the void starting with Tennessee transfer Quinton Chievous. I know the 6'6 Chievous didn't have huge numbers at Rocky Top but he has a high major body and impressed in the Pirates "secret scrimmage" against Longwood. Returnees Dwight Meikle and Jervon Pressley have really improved by all accounts over the summer and finish off what should be one of the better frontcourts in the MEAC. Really when it comes to Hampton it's quantity, the Pirates have all sorts of big men they can throw at you all night long.
What's the Pirates' biggest strength, and how can that help against Syracuse?
Hampton's biggest asset is their backcourt. Deron Powers is one of the top distributors in the MEAC, Brian Darden is a returning double-digit scorer, Ke'Ron Brown is a lock down defender, and Miami (OH) transfer Reggie Johnson adds some extra firepower. I think when you look at Syracuse or any high major team the Pirates face, their biggest asset will be their depth. Hampton is the deepest team in the MEAC and maybe the deepest among most of the mid-major ranks.
Does Hampton have any experience against a 2-3 zone, and how can they prepare for it?
I can't think of anyone in particular who really specializes in a 2-3 zone in MEAC and certainly not to the level of Syracuse. I think when you play in such a big league like the MEAC with what can be random personnel at times you see different defenses trying to hide different lineup deficiencies. So sure... Hampton has seen the zone before but nothing like this.
Who's the one Pirates player that's going to randomly get hot from three against SU? (this happens a bunch)
Brian Darden for sure. Darden can fall in love with the three at times and last year he had five games where he shot ten or more threes. I guess the good news for Syracuse fans is that he went just 16-for-57 in those games. Darden could get hot but it seems the more shots he takes the more inefficient he gets.
Thoughts on Jim Boeheim? We know he's a polarizing figure outside of Central New York...
I've always been a fan of Boeheim. I've had a few interactions on a personal level once at the Final Four and once when Syracuse came to Richmond for the NIT (Preston Shumpert glory years) and both were very positive. I've always thought he was funny and I always enjoy watching his teams so no problems here...
Care to offer a prediction for this one?
I say Syracuse wins 83-60. I think Hampton can hang for awhile but the Orange should wear them out.
Thanks again for taking the time out for these, Parks! And again, everyone: Be sure to follow him on Twitter and head over to Mid-Major Madness for everything you might want to know about Hampton, the MEAC or other mid-major squads.