It's not often you look at a Syracuse Orange basketball game versus the Virginia Tech Hokies as having a serious impact on SU's Tournament chances, but, every win is critical from here on out and the Orange can't afford to lose tonight with so many ranked opponents on the horizon.
So...will they take care of business and make Buzz Williams sweat or will they fall short...and still make Buzz Williams sweat? Let's find out...
Syracuse 74 - Virginia Tech 65
I don't think that SU will get quite the same scare this time around from the Hokies, but it will probably be another close-ish game. Buzz Williams is a good enough coach to keep Tech in games like this. Last time around, SU was carried by Rakeem Christmas and Trevor Cooney, who scored 17 and 18 respectively. Admittedly, Cooney's outing was very inefficient due to a 4-for-13 night from deep, which should be something that he can improve on. Kaleb Joseph and Chris McCullough combined for four points in Blacksburg. Hopefully, Syracuse gets a bit more production from the rest of the roster, and the game at the Dome isn't quite as gut-wrenching.
Syracuse 64 - Virgini Tech 59.
We know Buzz is going to get his team to make the game ugly. With a limited bench, Syracuse is going to be fine with a slower tempo. The time off should help Syracuse make some slight adjustments and I think the talent difference is enough for the Orange to pull out another tightly-contested ACC game.
Syracuse 67 - Virginia Tech 60
The last time around, the Orange got out of the gate with a strong 1st half that made it seem like they would have a pretty easy win in Blacksburg. Then, came the Hokies. It became a battle, and looked like it could have been a potential loss, but thankfully Syracuse found a way to win. This time around, I think Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas will be the anchors again, but the difference maker will be the contribution from the bench. The Orange have had over a week to recuperate from the UNC game, a good amount of time in my opinion to try and fix some of the problems that have led to their most recent losses. Hopefully, they have learned to never underestimate Virginia Tech, and the Dome crowd gets to help see them to a victory.
Syracuse 68 - Virginia Tech 58
I readily admit that this is a big "if," but if Syracuse hadn't nearly self-imploded in the final minutes the last time it took on Virginia Tech, the Orange would've won handily. This time around, the game will be played in the Dome, and I fully expect a Syracuse team in desperate need of a victory to get one. The Orange has had the past week off, which should work in its advantage. Look for a big night from Tyler Roberson, who has been at the top of his game recently and who finished with 17 rebounds the last time these two teams met, as SU gets back on track, at least for the time being.
Syracuse 67 - Virginia Tech 62
A week off should have recharged everyone's batteries, which theoretically would suggest this game could be a run away for Syracuse. But until further notice, all games are close games. Having said that, Jim Boeheim's team is up to playing four-on-five basketball! Rakeem Christmas is a star and Trick or Treat Trevor Cooney is...well...Trick or Treat Trevor, which is actually a good thing. Adding in Tyler Roberson becoming something of a force and Mike Gbinije's hints of what he can truly do and SU isn't really as far off as everyone assumes. I expect another rock fight but I wouldn't be too surprised if rest and continued development of certain players leads to a blow out for the Orange.
Syracuse 72 - Virginia Tech 64
Syracuse is obviously relying on Rakeem Christmas more than last time around, but that's fine -- I think? He's just too big of a body for Virginia Tech to match up with (just like last time). The key, as always, will be SU's shooting ability. If the Orange find a way to hit from the perimeter, they should make short work of the Hokies. If they can't, and end up in a rock fight, then things could go south. It won't be easy, but the rest should pay off. Chalk up a win for the Orange tonight.
Syracuse 68 - Virginia Tech 63
I feel like I've been picking SU to lose a lot lately so this is a nice change of pace. Hopefully not just a brief respite from the hard truth. It goes without saying that this game will come down to the wire. SU simply will not run away with anymore games this season. But, as much as they make us pull out our hair, they've become battle-tested and they know what they have to do to survive a Buzz Williams onslaught, and that includes avoiding him on the court. We'll have to see if the week layoff has been good or not. My guess is that it has been and we'll see a well-rested team take care of business in the end.
How about you?