The Syracuse Orange are in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis and they kick things off with a midday showdown against the Charlotte 49ers. Looming are the Michigan Wolverines or Connecticut Huskies, depending on who wins and who loses. But before we get to that, will the Orange make it to 4-0 or will they suffer defeat for the first time? Let's see what everyone thinks.
Syracuse 68 - Charlotte 56
Look for the Orange to make the 49ers passers, as they ranked low in the NCAA in assists last year and are starting out this year on a similar path. The Orange are the more talented team, so as long as they don't let one player beat them from the perimeter, like sharp-shooting freshman Andrien White or Braxton Ogbueze, the Orange should be able to win.
Syracuse 70 - Charlotte 59
Charlotte is coached by the legendary Mark Price, but Syracuse is a better team. The 49ers are 1-2 and have really struggled shooting a wintry 40.9% from the floor this season and that should be no different against a more talented Syracuse team. Expect the Orange to cruise in its first game, but the next two games will be much tougher.
Syracuse 75 - Charlotte 64
With 3 games in 3 days, look for the Orange to try and manage minutes for Dajuan Coleman and hopefully try to keep other guys fresh. Charlotte played Elon relatively close in their opener, so based on that, I'd expect this to be a contest until the end.
Syracuse 68 - Charlotte 57
Charlotte isn't a very good basketball team, having already lost games by double digits to Elon (a team SU beat) and East Carolina. The 49ers don't defend the 3 well, which Syracuse should be able to exploit. In fact, they really haven't done anything particularly well this season. So everything points to this being an easy game for the Orange, but I'm done expecting Syracuse to win games handily this season. This team just doesn't seem capable of that, at least not yet. This one will stay close, but once again, SU will pull away in the second half.
Syracuse 69 - Charlotte 61
Tyler Roberson's break out game against Elon was certainly nice to see, but we will see if he can continue to be that productive. I expect Gbinije, Richardson, and Cooney to start to pick up the slack in terms of scoring and leading the team throughout the Battle 4 Atlantis. Hopefully the Orange can get some quality minutes out of DaJuan in this game because they are going to need his size at the 5. Lydon is too small to play the 5 against some of these tougher teams. I expect the Orange to pull this one out and knock off Charlotte.
Syracuse 78 - Charlotte 63
Despite a 1-2 start to the season, the 49ers appear to be a guard-heavy squad that can score points -- something that could and should scare the Orange a little bit going in. However, SU does have superior shooters themselves, and against a porous Charlotte D, they should be able to carve through just fine. It may never be a complete blowout, but the Orange have the clear talent advantage and can use that to (hopefully) coast en route to their first comfortable victory. Big games from Gbinije and Roberson give hope for round two.
Syracuse 60 - Charlotte 53
I don't have strong faith in Syracuse to put together a high-scoring effort or even a complete game. But I also don't think they need to. Charlotte's fine but they're still on their way up. SU should have the talent to take this one, especially if they're hitting their threes. Hopefully they don't look ahead to a potential UConn showdown.
Now it's your turn...