The Syracuse Orange (11-9, 3-4) take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (12-7, 3-4) at home on Tuesday. Jim Boeheim’s team will tip off from the Carrier Dome after an unsuccessful two game road trip last week. Both teams will compete to reach the ever-so-venerable mark of .500 in the conference.
To preview the matchup, we brought on Robert Reinhard from Blogger So Dear. Let’s delve into the Q&A.
TNIAAM: You guys are on a two game win streak. What's worked well the last two games?
It's a slight cop out to say schedule, but I think that's part of it. Wake started ACC play just 1-4, but those 5 games includes trips to Charlottesville and Tallahassee, as well as a home game against UNC.
Wake was able to blow out Miami because they were excellent from deep (47%) and also got John Collins a lot of great looks around the basket (64% from inside the arc). Additionally, they have been doing an excellent job of eliminating turnovers and making a very high percentage of free throws. Wake didn't shoot as well from outside the arc against NC State (27%), but were able to get John Collins looks inside and were outstanding from the free throw line.
TNIAAM: How good is John Collins?
He's damn good. He's currently 2nd in the ACC in Ken Pomeroy's ACC Player of the Year race. He is an elite rebounder and is very efficient. He is one of the better players in the country at drawing fouls, and makes 70% of his free throw attempts. He's a very smooth player who has incredible footwork and touch around the basket. In addition to that, he's also developed into one of the better shot blockers in the ACC.
TNIAAM: O/U two times that Mitchell Wilbekin is announced as Scottie's brother during the broadcast?
I don't think I've heard that one as much lately, so I'll take the under on that one.
TNIAAM: Mitoglou had a good game in the dome two years ago, any chance of a repeat performance?
There's a chance, but he isn't shooting the three ball as well as he did two seasons ago. That said, he did make 8 of 9 three pointers against LSU earlier in the year, but he's still shooting just 36% from deep on the season. I think that his spacing will be important for Wake in this game, but I don't expect him to go be solely responsible for destroying the Syracuse zone.
TNIAAM: What can we expect Wake to do against the 2-3 zone?
Syracuse plays zone?! I think Wake matches up well against the 2-3. Syracuse has excellent length, and that will be problematic, but I think that Wake has the personnel to do well. Wake's starting lineup features two players (Keyshawn Woods and Austin Arians) who shoot over 41% from outside, as well as two others (Bryant Crawford and Dinos Mitoglou) who make more than 35%. Additionally, Mitchell Wilbekin (Wake's 6th man) shoots 42% from deep. They will be able to go 4-out frequently and really spread that zone. That should also open up driving lanes for wings, as well as room in the high post for opposite wings to flash. John Collins can do a very nice job of hiding behind the zone and knocking down shots from the short corner. I also expect to see Wake utilize point guard Bryant Crawford in the middle of the zone in some 1-3-1 sets.
TNIAAM: Wake wins if...
Wake wins if they knock down the three ball, limit turnovers, get to the foul line, and capitalize on offensive rebounds. I know that probably described every basketball game since the three point line was invented, but I think those components of basketball are essential against a zone.
TNIAAM: Syracuse wins if...
John Collins gets in foul trouble, Wake turnovers lead to transition opportunities for Syracuse, Cuse is able to use its height to shoot over Wake's smaller defenders.
TNIAAM: Ultimate prediction time. Who wins and why?
I'll take Syracuse to win this one 80-75, but I see this one as a true toss up.
Be sure to give Robert a follow on twitter @Robert_Reinhard and head on over to bloggersodear.com to catch all the Wake Forest coverage you could ever hope for. What’s your take, Orange Nation? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.