The Syracuse Orange (0-0) begin the 2015-2016 season tonight when they host the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (0-0) in the Carrier Dome. While the Orange will have a bunch of familiar faces like Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney, they'll also be featuring a trio of freshman who are sure to have some impact as well.
Will the game the way we expect it to? Let's see what the TNIAAM crew thinks (and then ask you...)
Syracuse 84 - Lehigh 70
I don't think this game will be as close as my final score prediction, but I do expect some sloppy play in the opener as Boeheim shuttles players in and out of the game. Syracuse has too much on offense for Lehigh, but the Mountain Hawks will make some shots as the young SU players get accustomed to playing the zone.
Syracuse 77 - Lehigh 61
I think the 2015-16 Orange are going to score a lot more than the previous years' teams, but I also think there are gonig to be some growing pains. The Mountain Hawks may be the best team in the Patriot League, but their weakness is in their depth, and Syracuse should be able to expose that by running and wearing them out as the game goes on. I expect a big run to close the first half that gives SU a cushion it won't relinquish.
Syracuse 88 - Lehigh 63
Lehigh wasn't fantastic against the 3-point shot last season, allowing teams to shoot 33.9 percent from beyond the arc. So look for the Orange's new-look offense to get off to a strong start in an easy win over the Mountain Hawks.
Syracuse 82 - Lehigh 68
Lehigh is probably better than most of the teams Syracuse plays early in the season, but nothing the Orange can't handle. I'm more worried about us seeing this hig flying offensive attack stalling out and willing to go ugly once shots stop dropping. If they just keep putting shots up, someone will get hot and carry the team to victory.
Syracuse 82 - Lehigh 67
The Orange take a little while to round into form in this game, but once the threes start falling, they pull ahead and stay there. Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson lead the scoring charge and keep SU running as Lehigh has nothing left in the tank over the final 10 minutes. Nice win for Syracuse to start things off, with some solid lessons to learn on both ends as well.
Syracuse 80 - Lehigh 69
Lehigh is very good at field goal defense so I'm not expecting to see the fully-operational Syracuse offense just yet, but it'll still be quite a show. The Hawks should put up a good fight, they're one of the better Patriot League squads this season, but the Orange should be able to pull away with this one late. The real question is, whose going to get an earful from Jim Boeheim first: Kaleb Joseph, Tyler Roberson or Frank Howard?
Now it's your turn...