Following up on nearly two years of jokes about comebacks and Elite 8 wins and three goggles, we meet again! The Syracuse Orange (12-4, 1-2) visit the Virginia Cavaliers (14-1, 3-0) on Tuesday night, with plenty on the line for SU. The Orange have lost two straight and it would be great to grab our first notable road win since beating Duke a couple seasons ago.
In advance of the game, though, we wanted to talk to our friends at Streaking the Lawn about what to expect. Caroline Darney, who you guys all know by now, stops by to chat about everything Hoos. You can check out our responses over there today too.
Virginia’s been impressive thus far. Any new wrinkles this year? Or same old stuff for Tony Bennett & Co.?
This team is very different from last season. While I love London Perrantes and last year’s team, the unexpected dismissal of Austin Nichols two weeks into the season last year put the Hoos in deep trouble. The front court was down a potential All-American player that was expected to be a huge factor on offense, and it hurt. All too often, the offense deferred to Perrantes, especially late in the shot clock, and we ended up with a so-so shot more often than I would have liked, especially when Isaiah Wilkins was ill.
BUT, you didn’t ask about last year. This season, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy are bigger, stronger, and more confident. Devon Hall is a consistent scorer, and the best on-ball defender. Wilkins does it all and plays with an energy I can’t even describe. They have shown themselves to be more capable and willing to take the ball into the lane and drive to the hoop, and they will pass to the post more. This team has more offensive weapons, and -- in my opinion -- has the best defense that Tony Bennett’s had in his time in Charlottesville.
Any double-digit leads the Hoos might be interested in squandering? We could use a resume-boosting win.
No. *shudders violently* What dark spirit did y’all do a deal with to make that your thing?
Do you miss Kyle Guy’s man-bun? We do not.
Hahaha I personally do not. I was supportive of the reasoning for keeping it last year (don’t let the haters get to you!), but I’m so happy it’s gone. We do still get the benefit of commentators mentioning it for the drinking game, but don’t have to actually look at the Guy-bun. He looks sharp with the short cut.
Until these last two games, Syracuse has been one of the most impressive rebounding teams in the nation. Virginia hasn’t managed a ton of rebounds this year. Could you see the disparity creating an issue on Tuesday?
Absolutely, it’s one of my biggest concerns for this matchup. The second chance opportunities have to be limited for ‘Cuse, or it could be a problem for the Hoos. They allowed 19 offensive rebounds last game out against UNC, but only 12 second chance points. That will be key again. I’ll be interested how Tony Bennett uses the big men... Wilkins will play a ton, but how much will we see a combo that includes DeAndre Hunter at the four? Will Diakite stay out of foul trouble to get lots of minutes? How will Jack Salt matchup?
Virginia does have players with length (namely Diakite and Huff... who hasn’t seen many minutes), and the guards are solid at rebounding as well. It will be interesting to watch develop.
If you had to pinpoint one major weakness for UVA this year, what would it be?
Post point production. It has improved, but it’s not consistent. I’m the world’s biggest Jack Salt fan, but he has some issues corralling passes down low at times. The big guys are actually pretty adept passers which is good for kick outs to the shooters. Wilkins, Diakite, and Hunter (who has played the three and four) can all hit that elbow jumper or slip behind the zone, so they will be crucial.
How devastated would you be to see both of your alma maters (Georgetown and Virginia) lose to Syracuse this year?
I literally can’t even.
The ACC’s kind of a mess this year. Feel free to use this space to remark on that and/or laugh at Duke.
Oh man, college basketball, I love you. The bottom of the conference (Pitt, GT, maybe NC State) are pretty bad. BC will always be a threat thanks to Bowman, Robinson, and Chatman. Wake? Who knows. FSU has so much length and athleticism. Notre Dame...well, y’all know (lolz) they’re still dangerous, even without Bonzie. How good is Miami? Clemson? UNC will (probably) right the ship and annoyingly win the ACC Tournament. But most importantly, LOL DUKE. Marvin Bagley is awesome, but man that team plays NO defense. Honestly, it’s impressive.
Prediction time: What happens in this one and who earns the win?
I think the Hoos take care of business at home. Kyle Guy is due a good shooting game, Ty Jerome and Devon Hall can knock down shots from the perimeter, and the defense has been INSANE. If Virginia can hound Syracuse into 12+ turnovers and limit Tyus Battle and Frank Howard, the Hoos could win by 10. Do I need to say numbers? Let’s go 64-53, UVA.
Thanks again for the time, Caroline. Be sure to check out Streaking the Lawn for UVA-related things, and follow Caroline on Twitter for musings on the Hoos and rarely anything at all on Georgetown.