Dropping down to the NIT means a quick turnaround for the Syracuse Orange (18-14, 10-8), who will host the UNC-Greensboro Spartans (25-9, 14-4) in the first round on Monday night. The Carrier Dome would seem unlikely to be packed, due to spring break for students, and the current weather in the Northeast, but -- surprises do happen.
So who’s winning this game, and putting minor league baseball trolling to rest for good? The TNIAAM staff makes its picks:
Syracuse 74, UNC-Greensboro 71
Since the St. John's game, I've felt that this Syracuse team has played with a lot of heart. I expect that they will put the disappointment of being in the NIT behind them and focus on making a run in this tournament. I don't expect a lot of changes in the strategy for the Orange, so look for a lot of shots from Andrew White to keep Syracuse playing.
Syracuse 85, UNC-Greensboro 61
I think Syracuse will come out angry in this contest with something to prove. I expect to see the same kind of dominating performance the Orange had in its first four games of the season against inferior opponents. Look for Andrew White and John Gillon to lead the charge offensively with solid production from Tyus and Tyler Lydon. Syracuse wins by a landslide.
Syracuse 85, UNC-Greensboro 73
Jim Boeheim gave all the right answers in his press conference on Monday, but UNCG isn’t a horrible team. They shoot it from 3 very well and have 25 wins. The Spartans took Wake down the wire and won the SoCon regular season title. Part of me thinks Syracuse won’t show up because of the let down of playing in the NIT, but part of me doesn’t think Jim will let that happen.
Syracuse 78, UNC-Greensboro 73
For the Orange, it’ll be tough to get motivated for this one, while the Spartans seem to be plenty excited about facing off at the Dome. That presents a problem that stats can’t account for. Syracuse comes out lethargic, and Francis Alonso hits some early threes to get UNCG in rhythm and an early lead. SU uses a strong second half to pull away in the final five minutes, as Tyler Lydon ends up the hero we both need and deserve against the Spartans’ bigs.
What about you?