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Syracuse vs. Maryland preview: Five things to watch

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Now the real season begins.

NCAA Basketball: Toledo at Syracuse
Will Tyus Battle be 100% for the Syracuse Orange?
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange did what they were supposed to do: start 5-0. The five opponents weren’t big-time teams, but now the Orange begin their real season as they face three straight quality opponents. The first of the three-game test is against the Maryland Terrapins who stand at 6-1.

The Terrapins’ one loss was in a nail-biter against St. Bonaventure, but they are still a talented team that is the first real test for the young Syracuse team. This will be the fifth time the Orange play in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and they currently hold a 1-3 record in the event (and have lost three straight). Syracuse has the weapons to win this game, but their focus needs to as sharp as ever if they want to continue their perfect start.

What’s up with Tyus Battle’s health?

The leader and go-to player for the Syracuse Orange is clearly Tyus Battle, but the biggest news surrounding the star shooting guard is his health. Battle suffered a back injury in the win over Toledo, and not much is known about the severity of the injury.

Battle has carried Syracuse’s offense in this young season, and winning this game without him would be an even bigger challenge for this young team. With or without Battle the Orange are going to need some big time scoring outputs from Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett. Syracuse relies on at least 20 points from Battle every night, but a hurt Battle means more responsibility on the shoulders of the younger Syracuse role players.

NCAA Basketball: Toledo at Syracuse
Has Oshae Brissett finally arrived?
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Can Oshae Brissett build off of his last performance?

Syracuse’s most talented freshman is clearly Oshae Brissett, but he hasn’t shown the consistency to start the year that the Syracuse faithful were expecting. However, Brissett turned a corner in the win over Toledo with a monster double-double (17 points and 14 rebounds). Brissett picked up the slack when Battle went down with the injury, as he used his dynamic scoring ability to get going. Brissett isn’t being asked to lead the team in scoring, but the Orange may have something special here if he can put up consistent performances like his last.

How will the Orange neutralize Maryland’s scoring attack?

Maryland doesn’t have a terrorizing scoring attack, but they have players who can score in bunches on any given night. Anthony Cowan is the Terrapin’s leading scorer with 15.3 points per game, but there aren’t many consistent scorers behind him. Maryland only has two other players who average double figures in scoring, so containing Cowan’s offensive production could lead to a low scoring night from the Terrapins. Syracuse’s team is built on their defense this year, so this could become a dominant performance for the Orange if they show up with the right mindset.

Maryland’s high turnover rate

The Orange are known for their length on defense, and it may be out in full force against Maryland with their high turnover rate. The Terrapins are averaging 17 turnovers a game with four players averaging at least two turnovers per game. This could be a great game for the Syracuse press to be in full force as their length up front could have a field-day. Syracuse needs to generate easy looks with their limited half court offense, and creating turnovers off the press is the perfect way to get it done against Maryland.

Will the Orange get consistent play from Geno Thorpe?

The Orange were expecting some big scoring nights from their transfer guard Geno Thorpe, and so far he hasn’t given them much. The flashes of excellence have been there from Thorpe, especially in the first half against Texas Southern (he had 13 points the half alone), but they need more consistency out of him if they want to reach their full potential. Thorpe isn’t being asked to score 20 points a night, but being a dynamic scoring force off the bench is essential for Thorpe to impact the Syracuse basketball program.