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Syracuse basketball will rely on stingy defense to beat Maryland

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Can the Orange upset the Terps?

NCAA Basketball: Oakland at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing Jim Boeheim knows, it’s defense. And if there’s one thing Syracuse always seems to have the upper hand on, it’s defense.

Monday will be no different as the Maryland Terrapins (6-1) come to the Carrier Dome to face the Syracuse Orange (5-0).

The Terps, despite getting off to a good start, have a major issue: turnovers. Maryland turns it over, on average, 17 times per game. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter, the Terps’ two starting guards, lead the team with just under three turnovers per game a piece.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Maryland vs Xavier Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

And as for SU, it’ll be something the Orange has to take advantage of on Monday evening to get win No. 6 on the season.

Syracuse forced a season-high 19 turnovers against Oakland back on Nov. 20th at the Dome, and on average force 12.8. To beat Maryland, that number will have to climb.

Right now, Maryland turns the ball over one in every four possessions.

Syracuse’s stingy 2-3 zone can nightmares for opponents — especially those who haven’t seen it before. With Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe’s long arms in the middle of the zone, or Tyus Battle and Frank Howard’s experience up top, the turnovers are bound to happen.

Jim Boeheim will make adjustments throughout the game — extending the zone or compressing it in. For having as many shooters as the Terps do, the 3-point shot hasn’t been falling as much as they’d hope. If that’s the case on Monday, look for Maryland to try to get the ball inside which is when Syracuse will trap and drive that turnover number up.

The Terps have one “notable” win this season, which was over unranked Butler. They did lose last week to St. Bonaventure who was missing their best player in Jaylen Adams. In that game, Maryland finished with 20 turnovers and went 5-of-23 from 3.

With Syracuse still trying to develop an identity on offense, forcing turnovers and turning them into easy points will be crucial. This has the feel of a hard fought, 40-minute game where every possession will matter.

If Maryland can correct the turnover problem and take care of the basketball, SU could be looking at their first loss.

If Maryland’s turnovers woes continue, the Orange could pass their first true test on the young season and improve to 6-0.