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Syracuse vs. Miami preview: Q&A with State of the U

You know what time it is.

NCAA Basketball: Miami at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

By now you’re well aware of the Syracuse Orange’s first round matchup with the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC Tournament. The No. 8 vs. No. 9 seeds tip off at noon on Wednesday with the winner advancing to take on North Carolina. While nobody knows for certain whether Syracuse will get an at-large bid, this game serves as an opportunity to pick up a win away from the Carrier Dome.

That said, we caught up with our friend Cam Underwood from State of the U to preview the matchup one more time. Let’s dive in.

TNIAAM: What's changed at Miami since the first Syracuse meeting?

CU: A lot, and not much at the same time. Miami has had an up and down year, beating some good teams (Duke, UNC, Virginia) and losing some tough games (lead at Duke, at Louisville, and at Notre Dame, only to lose all 3 games). Ja'Quan Newton got suspended for 3 games...and Miami won all 3. 2 transfers got kicked off the team. Bruce Brown had the 1st triple-double in program history. And more.

In short, there's been a lot that's happened, but in the end, Miami ends up 9th in the ACC tourney with a record (20-10) that could have been much better...or much worse.

TNIAAM: What's the hope for your side as it relates to NCAA Tournament seeding and region placement?

CU: Miami looks to be in the 7-9 seed range, unless we win the ACC tourney (a tall task to say the least). I would like Miami to stay in that range. Last year, I wanted Miami in the East for a good draw with #2 seed Villanova (who ALWAYS imploded in the tournament) in the Sweet 16. Well, I got what I asked for, and Villanova blew us out in route to a National Championship. So, I'm not rooting for a region or matchup anymore after last year. Just stay in the 7-9 seed range and the rest will work itself out.

TNIAAM: Is Bruce Brown staying for another year?

CU: Man, I sure hope so. Brown, who was SNUBBED for the Freshman All-ACC team, has a wealth of talent, and would be a major part of the 2017-18 Canes hoops team. Brown has the kind of talent to be a 1-and-done player though, so nothing is certain. While there are parts of his game that could use refinement (loose handle in traffic, consistent shooting), Brown's athleticism, toughness, defense, and finishing are all NBA caliber traits/skills. For the good of the program, I hope Brown stays another year. But, if he has the chance to be picked in the late-teens to 20s in the NBA draft (entirely possible), I fear our days watching Bruce Brown in Hurricanes Orange and Green may end at the conclusion of this season.

TNIAAM: Who will have a big game for Miami in this game?

CU: Davon Reed is a senior and our most consistent player. He's stepped his game up recently, won the Skip Prosser Award as the ACC's top MBB Scholar Athlete, was named 3rd team All-ACC and 1st team All-Defense in the league. Reed leads by example, and he'll need to do so on Wednesday.

Defensively, Miami will need big games from Kamari Murphy and Ebuka Izundu inside to combat Syracuse's length in the front court.

TNIAAM: Over/Under 4 threes from Vasiljevic?

CU: Under. He's a known commodity, and Syracuse learned first hand what he can do when given space in the first matchup between these teams when Vasiljevic went 6/12 from 3 for all 18 of his points. Apart from that game, Vasiljevic has hit more than 4 3FG exactly once: he hit 5 3FGs vs South Carolina State on December 6th. That was roughly a month before the game at Syracuse. Vasiljevic has 4 games of 3 3FGs, and several more games with 2 3FGs....but also has many games with 1 or 0 3FG.

If you continue to give him space to shoot and let him get in a rhythm there's a CHANCE at the over, but I'm going with 2 3FG (maybe 3 3FG) as my prediction for the Australian sniper Vasiljevic in this game.

TNIAAM: What are the keys to this game for both squads?

CU: Execution on both ends.

Playing defense without fouling.

Not turning the ball over and letting the opposing team get out on the break.

Having the star players play like star players.

TNIAAM: Who wins and why?

CU: That's the thing with this Miami Hurricanes team: I have no idea which team is going to show up. It could be the team that blew out North Carolina....or it could be the team that just went 0-2 and got HANDLED by VT and FSU after getting ranked for the first time this season. I have no idea.

Shot in the dark here: Syracuse wins by 5. Yes, that's 100% a guess. Or maybe, it's a reverse jinx since I picked Miami to win the first game vs the Orange and we lost.



Well, just like that stupid owl that tried to figure out how many licks it took to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop, we just might never know.

Be sure to give Cam a follow on twitter @UnderwoodSports and to head on over to for coverage as well as our preview.

Per usual, leave your thoughts in the comment section below.