Teams: 2K Empire Classic featuring No. 15 Syracuse Orange (2-0, 0-0) vs. Connecticut Huskies (2-0, 0-0)
Date & Time: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
Location: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NY
Line: Syracuse -10.5. ESPN BPI gives Syracuse an 80 percent chance to win.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3, SiriusXM: 971
Connecticut Blog: The UConn Blog
Rivalry: 56-38, Syracuse
Current Streak: Syracuse at one
First Meeting: Hugh Greer brought the
confusingly constipated dogs Huskies to Syracuse in 1956, and proceeded to get hammered by the Orangemen, 102-82. Vinnie Cohen scored 25 points, and Gary Clark chipped in 22 of his own. Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun likely both grumbled about this result somewhere else.
Last Meeting: Syracuse led by 11 at the half and eventually outlasted the Huskies, 72-63 in the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden last December. Freshman Oshae Brissett announced his arrival on the big stage by scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 boards. Meanwhile, established star Tyus Battle added a team-high 22 points for the Orange.
Matthew Moyer also chipped in a surprising 18 points and some crowd-pleasing dunks for Syracuse, which upped its record to 7-1 with the win. Moyer was averaging just over two points per game prior to his double-digit breakout against Connecticut. It was a display earning...praise from Jim Boeheim.
After the game, according to ESPN, Boeheim said Moyer had “been horrible all year. Horrible is being nice.” In a totally unrelated coincidence, Moyer is now attending Vanderbilt.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (43rd year, 1,029-371); Connecticut: Danny Hurley (1st season, 2-0; 153–105 overall)
Coach Bio: Daniel Hurley has been well known to Syracuse fans for decades now. The son of legendary high school coach Bob and brother of former Duke star Bobby, Danny entered college ball as a guard for Seton Hall back in 1991. Living up to the hype of being a Hurley in the early 90s was difficult for Dan, who left school for a time, but he eventually became a key player during his junior and senior seasons.
Like his dad before him, Dan entered the coaching ranks. In fact, Dan was first an assistant for his old man at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. After serving four years on the staff at Rutgers, Dan then became head coach at high school power St. Benedict’s Prep.
Success there led him to Wagner in 2010 where he went from 13 wins in year one to 25 in his second campaign. From that amazingly quick turnaround, Hurley moved on to Rhode Island to start the 2012-13 season. He struggled the first two years trying to breath life into the doormat Ram’s program. But over his last four seasons as Rhode Island coach, the team 20-plus games three times and made the second round of the NCAA tournament the previous two years.
At Connecticut, Hurley is seen as the Basketball Ghost Whisperer, someone who has already saved flat-liners like Wagner and Rhode Island. There is no question the bar is set higher for the Huskies, who have won two titles this decade alone. However, after the messy divorce from former coach Kevin Ollie, Hurley will have a reengaged fan base that will likely allow time for Hurley to implement his brand of ball with his players.
Last Year: Last season was the last straw for Ollie. Connecticut limped to a 14-18 overall record and a dismal 7-11 in the woeful American Athletic Conference. The fact that the Huskies didn’t even qualify for the CBI would have been a big deal. That is if not for the fact that the school began an investigation into the recruitment of three players in late January.
That move gave school administrators the leverage to fire Ollie on March 10, just two days after the last game of the season. After being canned, Ollie then threatened to sue, claiming defamation and invasion of privacy following the actions of university leaders after his dismissal.
With investigations and lawsuits in the periphery, it’s easy to understand why fans are excited about the Dan Hurley era.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: We’re only two games into the season, but senior guard Jalen Adams is off to a hot start for the Huskies. Adams is shooting just under 64 percent from the field and is averaging 20 points per game. Plus, he’s someone who knows Syracuse, scoring 22 points in the losing cause against the Orange last December.
There have only been two games to pick from, one of which being a blow out win over University of Missouri-Purdue-Kansas City (only one of those locations is incorrect, but it’s up to you to figure out which one.) But it could be telling that Alterique Gilbert has made five of his eight attempts from three. Gilbert, a junior, is effectively a career 22-percent shooter from deep. So maybe he’s just found a hot patch that will cool out, or he might just be That Guy who hits 11 threes against Syracuse’s zone.
If Syracuse Wins: It’s expected, for sure, but what a victory could do is give fans a sense of relief. Sure, the Orange sits at 2-0 and No. 15 in the country, but both wins this season haven’t exactly been flawless. Should Syracuse get the “W” and look more comfortable, that would go a long way toward justifying the preseason expectations.
Although, the next game against top-10 Oregon would be the real early-season test.
If Syracuse Loses: A loss in this game could knock Syracuse closer to No. 25 than No. 10 in the national rankings. Plus, it likely means the Orange won’t get that big test against Oregon.
Fun Fact No. 1: Ten of the last 11 match-ups between the two old Big East rivals have been decided by 10 or fewer points. Syracuse, interestingly enough, has won eight of those games.
Fun Fact No. 2: Hurley went onto something called IdealPoultry.com and bought himself ten chickens. That then somehow makes him the right person to lead Connecticut basketball back to relevancy. Call me crazy, but I would have more confidence in him if the Huskies were in a nationally recognized conference and not the AAC. What do I know, though?
Fun Fact No. 3: Did you know Syracuse and Connecticut played in a six-overtime classic? You did? Well, here’s your reward for knowing that information!