It’s round two between Georgia Tech and Syracuse, and there’s a lot on the line.
Some believe there’s a magic number to get to for an NCAA Tournament bid — and 17 isn’t it.
I, for one, believe you need to get to at least 18 wins, especially with the losses that the Orange already has on its resume (St. John’s, Georgetown, UConn, Boston College). However, the three Top 10 (at the time) wins are impressive, and no other bubble team can say that other than Syracuse. Kansas State comes close, however.
But as for Saturday’s game, the winner will receive a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament that begins on Tuesday, but the winner will likely face North Carolina on Thursday afternoon — if they win the noon ET matchup on Wednesday.
However, going back to the first matchup between the two teams — this came down to three-on-three basketball.
So, on Saturday, which “Big 3” will prevail?
For GT, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson scored 23, 13 and 20 points, respectively. The next highest scorer had just seven points in the 71-65 win over Syracuse.
For the Orange, Taurean Thompson scored 18, Andrew White had 17 and Tyus Battle finished with 11.
It’s not the typical “Big 3” for the Orange, which still forces me to give SU to the advantage on Saturday. Only getting seven points from Tyler Lydon and John Gillon, and Battle’s 11 was still skewed due to illness.
If Syracuse can have its normal “Big 3” of Lydon, White and Battle contribute at a high rate, and then throw in John Gillon and Taurean Thompson’s offensive abilities to that mix — I like SU’s chances in the rematch, and really against most teams in college basketball.
Slowing down Georgia Tech is easier said than done, but Lammers and Jackson crushed the Orange last game. However, Okogie is arguably GT’s best player. He had an off game back on February 19, and still managed to score 13 points on just three made field goals.
It’s hard to label a “Big 3” for Syracuse, because every game tends to be different. When everyone’s clicking, the Orange is scary. And being squarely on the bubble — SU needs everyone.