Deja vu all over again.
The Syracuse Orange (2-0) will take on the California Golden Bears (2-0) in the semifinal round of the 2K Classic on Thursday Nov. 20 with tipoff at 9 p.m. Will Cal do that thing that you so desperately want to say or will the Orange beat the Bears for the fourth time in four games? Let's see what the TNIAAM staff thinks (and then what you think...).
Syracuse 72 - California 61
This is it. This is the game that Trevor Cooney breaks out of his slump. For what it’s worth, Cal ranked 236th in the country last year in defending the three. And, from my perspective, it seemed like at least a couple of Cooney’s misses on Sunday could have easily been makes. I think he knocks down a few more shots, SU does its thing defensively for most of the night, and Rak continues his early-season dominance as the Orange improve to 3-0.
Syracuse 75 - Cal 68
Cal is scoring a lot of points and SU isn’t allowing many. This is the first big test for both teams and I think we see an up-tempo game with Cal trying to avoid the zone and SU trying to score any way it can by getting in transition. I think SU struggles to score early against a good team before settling in on offense and defense and pulls away late. Cal probably looks better at times, but SU has more talent and that usually wins out.
Syracuse 71 - Cal 67
We joke about Cal all the time, but the Golden Bears have put up decent fights against us...that NCAA Tournament game wasn't as close as the announcers wanted to make it seem, but last year's match-up was legitimately a good game. Cal seems to be cut from largely the same cloth that it has been the last few seasons, while Syracuse still has plenty of growing to do. I expect SU, which should be more talented, to win this one, but I also expect Cal to hit some big threes and stay in the game until the buzzer sounds.
Syracuse 66 - California 62
Syracuse still can't score points, but that might be okay once again against Cal. Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough keep the paint clear and when forced to beat SU from the perimeter, the Golden Bears fall just short. Cal is a much tougher opponent than in past years, but it's just not enough. SU, on the other hand, proves to itself it can win close games while still ID'ing a few issues (most notably the lack of guard play). Still, a win's a win.
Cal 66 - Syracuse 61
Going to be the Debbie Downer on this one and, honestly, I don't know why. I just would like to see what this team does against a better opponent. If people are worried about what SU did against Hampton, then I am guessing a big-time game against a steady Pac-12 team might be a good test. Plus, SU is due to lose a game against Cal and in the non-conference tournaments.
Cal 70 - Syracuse 62
You know, I'm also going to be a Debbie Downer and I also can't really tell you why. It's a couple things, I think. Syracuse is due for a loss in one of these tournaments and MSG isn't the guaranteed home court advantage people like to say it is. I see a lot of good things about this team but I also see potential for them to really crap out against a quality opponent. Cal's decent enough that if they can limit our rebounding and hit their threes, there's not much we can do to counter that. I do think this is the kind of team served well by early losses so I'm not thinking like this is would be a catastrophe of some kind.
What do you think will happen?