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Syracuse Vs. Michigan: Game Time, TV & Meaningless Prediction

The Orange travel to Ann Arbor Tuesday night to face their first nationally-ranked foe of the 2014-15 season.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team faces its biggest test of the season Tuesday, when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on the nationally-ranked Michigan Wolverines in a non-conference showdown (7:32 p.m. on ESPN). The contest is a part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The Orange (5-1) are coming off three straight victories, the latest being a 72-48 handling of the Holy Cross Crusaders at the Carrier Dome on Friday night. Senior center Rakeem Christmas netted a collegiate-best 25 points, while teammate, freshman forward Chris McCullough, posted his second double-double as an Orange player scoring 14 points and collecting 13 rebounds.

Christmas and McCullough have been SU's most consistent players this season. Christmas has scored 18 or more points and snagged nine or more rebounds four times this season, while McCullough has scored 10 points or more in every SU game.

The backcourt duo of junior Trevor Cooney (10.2 point per game) and freshman Kaleb Joseph (8.5 ppg) have been up-and-down as a pair, while junior forward Michael Gbinije (6.0 ppg and 3.4 rpg) hasn't quite found his rhythm as the team's first option off the bench.

Syracuse lone loss came against the California Golden Bears, which has improved to 5-1 after losing to the No. 6-ranked Texas Longhorns in the 2K Classic Championship Game.

Syracuse Orange (projected starting lineup) Class Ht. Wt. PPG RPG
Rakeem Christmas Sr. 6'9" 250 17.5 9.5
Chris McCullough Fr. 6'10" 210 15.3 8.3
Trevor Cooney Jr. 6'4" 195 10.2 1.8
Kaleb Joseph Fr. 6'3" 165 8.5 3.5
So. 6'8" 212 6.5 5.0

The Wolverines (5-1) enter the match-up ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Their lone loss came against No. 10/9 Villanova Wildcats, 60-55, last Tuesday in the championship game of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, NY.

Junior forward Caris LaVert netted a team-best 16 points and added six rebounds and three steals for Michigan in the effort, which featured the team trailing by as much as 13 points early in the second half and eventually taking an eight-point lead.

Michigan earned its way into the Legends' title game by beating Oregon, 70-63, in the semifinals. Sophomore Zak irvin led the team with 19 points, while LeVert added 18. Ricky Doyle came off the bench to tally 10 points.

In their last game, the Wolverines handled Nicholls State, 91-62, as LeVert scored a team-high 24 points and Doyle added a collegiate-best 15.

Overall, roughly 34 percent of Michigan's offense comes from shooting 3-pointers. The Wolverines are making 44.5% of their attempts from long range with Irvin leading the team with 19 triples.

LeVert, Walton Jr. and Irvin are considered the team's top-three players, as they combing for 66.3 percent of the team's offense. Irvin will try and get his point by shooting; Walton Jr. should try to drive into the lane to get his points; while LeVert can do everything.

Doyle has had recent success off the bench, but look for Spike Albrecht (28.5 minutes per game) being head coach John Beilein's No. 1 option in relief.

Michigan Wolverines (projected starting lineup) Class Ht. Wt. PPG RPG
Kameron Chatman Fr. 6'7" 210 5.2 4.2
rFr. 6'9" 230 4.7 2.7
Derrick Walton Jr. So. 6'1" 185 13.8 5.4
So. 6'6" 200 17.7 3.3
Jr. 6'6" 200 17.5 6.2

All-time, this will be the 15th meeting between the two programs with Syracuse owning a 8-6 record. This will be the third meeting between Boeheim (39th season) and Beilein (eighth) at their current programs.

The last time Syracuse and Michigan met was in the 2013 Final Four, which featured the Maize and Blue defeating the Orange, 61-56. The victory advanced Michigan to the championship game for the first time in 20 years.

SU's last victory, 53-50, against Michigan was in 2010-11, when the pair met at the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, N.J.

Team Comparison Syracuse Michigan
Record (5-1) (5-1)
Points Per Game 70.2 76
Opponents Points Per Game 51.7 61.3
FG% 44.4% 47.3%
3PTA-3PTM-% 18-89-20.2% 53-119-44.5%
FTA-FTM-FT% 85-127-66.9% 87-113-77.0%
Rebound Margin (+9.5) (+3.8)
Turnovers Per Game 12.3 9.2

Game Time: 7:02 p.m. ET (tip-off)

TV: ESPN–Mike Tirico (play-by-play) and Dan Dakich (color)

Radio: Syracuse IMG Network

Betting Line: Michigan (-5.5)

Meaningless Prediction: Michigan 72, Syracuse 64

For those critics that harp on Boeheim's non-conference schedule never featuring a "true road" game, well, here's the early-season test you're looking for. With this game and a Dec. 20 meeting at nationally-ranked Villanova, SU will be tested in the non-conference and will need to get one of these two to start building a decent NCAA Tournament resume.

Michigan doesn't have the talent it had during the two program's Final Four meeting a few years ago, but neither does Syracuse and it will be interesting to see which two of these good friends–Boehiem and Bielein–are coaching them up faster.

The key tonight will be Syracuse using Christmas and McCullough inside and out-rebounding Michigan on the offensive end. If the Orange can do that then they should be able to score enough points to keep up with the Wolverines shooting.

All-in-all, the home court will be the difference as Michigan should pull away late with free throws.

Syracuse Orange (next five games) Date Time TV
Vs. St. Johns 12/6/2014 5:15 PM ESPN2
Vs. Louisiana Tech. 12/14/2014 4:00 PM ESPNU
at Villanova 12/20/2014 1:00 PM FOX
Vs. Colgate 12/22/2014 7:00 PM ESPNU
Vs. Long Beach State 12/28/2014 2:00 PM ESPNU