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Syracuse vs. Virginia preview: Five things to watch

Will the offense be found in the South?

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After two consecutive losses in games in which the Syracuse Orange should have won, they now find themselves in a perilous situation where their early season positives can turn into a season full of disappointments—and fast.

The Orange will travel to John Paul Jones Arena to take on the No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers, and if Syracuse plays the way they have as of late you can bet this will be an ugly sight.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse
Can Tyus Battle and crew figure out a way to score?
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive woes

No matter how good your defense is, it is near impossible for any college basketball team to win when they score 49 points in a game. The Orange need to find a way to generate easy looks on offense, because they truly struggle to score in the half court. It’s nice to see Tyus Battle starting to find his rhythm again as he scored 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, but the Orange will need a full team effort if they want to have any shot in knocking off a top 10 team in the country.

Foul trouble

The Orange are not a deep team at all, so they find themselves in big trouble when one of their “big three”, or even Paschal Chukwu gets into early foul trouble. If it weren’t for early foul trouble in the Wake Forest game, Tyus Battle would have played every minute for the last 10 games.

That should show that if him or any other ball dominant player heads to the bench, the Orange will have their already weak odds to win this game dwindle even lower. Defending without fouling is key for this team if they want to show one of the top ACC teams what their hyped-up defense is all about.

Can Oshae Brissett figure it out?

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse
The Orange need Oshae Brissett to take that next step.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Oshae Brissett has solidified himself as one of the key contributors for this Syracuse basketball team, but he really needs to find a way to shoot better from the field. After a 3-15 showing in his last outing, Brissett is now down to a little under 34% shooting from the field this year. Don’t get me wrong, Brissett has proven that he is capable of playing at a very high level this year, but he needs to find a way to hit more of his jump shots if he wants to take that next step.

Virginia’s balanced offense

The Cavaliers don’t have a dominant scorer, but their offensive balance (and of course their stout defense) makes them a legit threat. Unlike the lack of depth Syracuse has, Virginia has eight players who average at least 15 minutes a game. The Orange will need to find a way to keep their players fresh if they want to keep up with the active bodies the Cavaliers will throw at them.


I guess we can stop calling this team a good rebounding team after coach Jim Boeheim said the hype around their rebounding was a “complete myth”. The Orange average six more rebounds a game than the Cavaliers, but stats don’t matter until they are actually seen against their opponent — as we learned on Saturday. Despite the apparent myth, Syracuse cannot get manhandled on the glass like they did against Notre Dame if they want to survive this latest road trip.