The Miami Hurricanes are coming to the Dome with a hot hand, rebounding from a slow start to the season. The Syracuse Orange have seen highs and lows all year long and still have yet to truly figure themselves out. It's a dangerous match-up when the two meet in the Carrier Dome today at 4:00 p.m. What will happen? Let's try to guess...
Miami 71 - Syracuse 62
Here comes the gauntlet! Miami isn't on the level of Louisville or Duke. Well, the Canes did beat up on the Blue Devils in Durham. So maybe Miami is on the that level? I do know this for certain: the Hurricanes aren't Wake Forest, Boston College or Georgia Tech. This is a step up no matter how you look at it, and while I think Miami is more than beatable, I think we all question Syracuse's ability to step its game up. Ultimately, Rodriguez and company do too many things that the Orange just can't do right now...this season.
Syracuse 58 - Miami 56
Last year I sat in the Dome and watched Miami almost upset Syracuse. I left impressed by the game plan of Jim Larranaga and with a better team this year, everything points to Miami coming away with a victory. Angel Rodriguez seems like the type of guard who can carve up the 2-3 zone and the Canes bring a deep team, so the short turnaround from their Thursday night game shouldn't be a major factor. However, I was on M Street this afternoon and saw Kaleb Joseph in Dunkin Donuts and if he's smart enough to avoid Chipotle the day before the game, then I'm taking this sign changing my pick. Syracuse wins on a late Joseph pull-up jumper and gets a crucial home win for their post-season resume.
Miami 62 - Syracuse 59
Miami has been a weird team this year. Right when they looked like they were a legit Top 25 group, losses to Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky happened. Since, The U has bounced back a bit with a few close losses to some of the ACC's top teams (Virginia, Notre Dame) and a blowout win over Duke. The 'Canes get really good play from their guards who are adept at penetrating and have a knack for the big shot, especially Angel Rodriguez, they're a solid three point shooting bunch, and last year a lesser Miami team took SU to the brink twice. I don't have a great feeling about this one.
Miami 74 - Syracuse 66
This Miami squad is no pushover, as you might have already figured. And that doesn't bode well for the Orange, who have found some difficulty putting mediocre opponents away -- never mind a team that recently knocked off Duke at Cameron Indoor. Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez can both shoot the ball from the perimeter, so despite a desire to go with some random kid off the bench to get hot, those two are far too obvious to ignore. SU may be able to control the paint, but unless Trevor Cooney gets back on track from three, it's tough to see an Orange win here.
Miami 68 - Syracuse 65
Let the disloyalty begin. Look, this Syracuse team has grown on me. For all their faults and issues, I like watching them gut things out, even if it's uber-frustrating in the moment. Alas, if I've learned anything so far, it's that there's only so much Rakeem Christmas can do. Michael Gbinije might be picking it up but you never know which Trevor Cooney is showing up. And while this team is better than it was a month ago, it's not up to the challenge of winning games like this one as often as we're used to.