The No. 15 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is still perfect as they hold a 2-0 record heading into the 2K Sports Classic Tournament. The Orange will open the two-day event with the UConn Huskies, as the two former Big East programs look to make a little more history in Madison Square Garden.
If the Orange want to come out of their first tournament with the perfect record they entered it with, then they should do their best to not play six overtime periods in round one. The TNIAAM team has been perfect with selecting the winner of Syracuse’s first two games, so let’s see what the “experts” have in store this time around.
Syracuse 74, UConn 70
Welcome Dan Hurley to the picture in what’s been a fairly un-compelling UConn-Syracuse “rivalry” the past few years. Two seasons ago the Huskies won at the free throw line in a game that perfectly defined a “really?” season. Last year Matthew Moyer unloaded on UConn, because that’s what happened to them in 2017-18. This should be the most compelling matchup in recent memory, as Hurley’s quickly flipped one of the most isolation-dragged, inefficient offenses in college basketball into the top 100. The Huskies now have three 3.0+ assist per game players surrounding returning lead scorer Jalen Adams. The Orange have their own concerns in that category, especially in the absence of Frank Howard. They’ll absolutely need 70+ to win this game on a neutral court. Despite sitting around 40 percent from the field, Oshae Brissett’s early play-making and the team’s free throw shooting fortune favors well in this game. They’ve also been extremely disruptive on the defensive end, hauling in every rebound and getting sensational rim protection from Paschal Chukwu. That should be a winning formula in a close game.
Syracuse 71, UConn 65
The Orange came out sloppy and out of sync in their last game, and that was in large part due to the number of turnovers they were committing. Syracuse is facing a much more challenging offense in the Huskies, so giving them extra opportunities via turnovers could dig the Orange into quite a big hole. This one will be going back and forth throughout, but Tyus Battle looked like the star he is in the second half of the Morehead State game, and that version of the junior guard who show for all 40 minutes, as he leads Syracuse to a close win.
Syracuse 68, UConn 64
With Frank Howard’s availability in question, it’s going to be up to Jalen Carey to take care of the ball and keep the Syracuse offense moving. This is setting up to be a game the Orange will need to win on the defensive end and I think controlling the boards and limiting turnovers will be enough to give Syracuse the win.
Syracuse 75, UConn 66
Syracuse’s lack of health at the point guard position has been well documented to this point. As long as Tyus Battle is playing the two, I think it’s vital for whoever is playing that position in this game to just come in and run the offense without forcing the issue whether it be Jalen Carey or Frank Howard. This will be Carey’s first game at MSG under the bright lights and should Howard return he’ll likely be shaking off some rust. It’s worth noting that he struggled in last year’s game against Connecticut.
Still, I think Syracuse has enough here defensively to contain Jalen Adams, Alterique Gilbert and fifth-year transfer Tarin Smith. Oshae Brissett and Battle carry the offense to get the Orange past Connecticut while Elijah Hughes has a chance to be a major x-factor in this game.
Syracuse 76, UConn 70
Jalen Adams will get his for UConn, and really, you have to be at least a little concerned about what he and Alterique Gilbert can do on offense when it’s likely SU’s best defender (Frank Howard) won’t be suiting up. Still, I think the Orange get some surprising production inside and either Elijah Hughes or Buddy Boeheim find their stroke from outside. A late run by the Huskies makes it a little nerve-wracking, but the good guys pull off the win.
Who will win the Syracuse vs. UConn game?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, but this time it won’t take six overtimes
UConn, and it’s a long night in the city that never sleeps