Day & Time: Saturday, Dec. 15 at noon EST
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Line: N/A. ESPN BPI gives Syracuse an 86.5-percent chance of winning.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN & YES Network
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius XM 381
Old Dominion blog: Underdog Dynasty
Rivalry: 2-1, Syracuse
Current Streak: Syracuse, one
First Meeting: These two teams first met during Jim Boeheim’s inarguable season in Syracuse. The first-year coach earned a big victory over the Monarchs, 67-64, in the 1977 ECAC Upstate-Southern Championship. Following the victory at the Norfolk Scope Arena, the Orangemen would move on to the NCAA Tournament, where they would take down Tennessee before bowing out against Charlotte, 81-59.
Last Meeting: Syracuse got past Old Dominion, 71-58 inside the Carrier Dome back in late January of 1981. The game was sandwiched in between road losses at St. Bonaventure and at DePaul for SU. In fact, those Orangemen would miss out on the NCAA tourney, despite winning the first-ever Big East Conference tourney (which did not include an automatic invite to the Big Dance at the time). Jim Boeheim’s club ultimately lost to the Tulsa in the National Invitational Tournament in Madison Square Garden.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (43rd year, 1,033-373); Old Dominion: Jeff Jones (27th year, 477–348 overall; 120-61 ODU)
Coach Bio: Jeffrey Jones is likely a known name to most college hoops fans. The Monarchs coach has previously led the programs at Virginia and at American University.
Before being the head man anywhere, Jones played college ball at UVA, where he was four-year starter from 1978 through 1982. Jones was a member of some prolific Cavs teams, winning an NIT title and reaching the Final Four during his time in school. The kid from Kentucky left Virginia as its all-time leader in assists (598) and broke a school record for assists in a season during the 79-80 campaign.
Drafted by the Indiana Pacers, Jones actually never played professional ball. Instead, Jones went into the coaching world serving as an assistant at his alma mater for eight years. He eventually took over at Virginia, taking the Cavs to five NCAA tourneys and one NIT. Jones fizzled out, though, earning only one above-.500 season in his last three years before stepping down in 1998.
Jones went on to take over American University three years later. He led the Eagles to a couple of NCAA tourney berths—2008 and 2009. Jones made American competitive in the Patriot League, earning himself 211 overall victories in 12 seasons in Washington, D.C.
Following the 2013 campaign, Jones was announced as ODU’s coach. Since taking over, the Monarchs have not had a losing season and are averaging about 23 wins per year. Some how, even after notching 25 “Ws,” Old Dominion and Jones did not earn a postseason berth last March.
Last Year: I guess the cat is out of the bag a bit, right? The Monarchs went 25-7 and 15-3 in Conference USA, even advancing to the league semis before losing to Western Kentucky. However, it was the first time ODU missed out on any type dance in five years.
It wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world, as the Monarchs didn’t really challenge themselves in the non-conference portion of the season. A win over Dayton might have been the biggest feather in their cap.
Last Game: Old Dominion came back at home for a 79-69 victory over Fairfield last Sunday. B.J. Stith led the way for the Monarchs, scoring 28 and pulling down 14 boards, a career high.
A 12-2 run to start the second half propelled ODU to a six-point lead, but the Stags weren’t dead just yet. Oh no. Fairfield went on a run and actually trailed by just one just a few minutes later. The two then went back and forth until Old Dominion grabbed a 62-61 lead before eventually holding on for the win.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Stith, a Virginia transfer, is a six-foot-five senior guard who is the second-leading scorer for the Monarchs, pulling down nearly nine rebounds per game (best on the the team). He’s also hitting just over 40 percent of his shots from deep and is close to an 85-percent shooter from the free-throw line. Stith is someone who could give the Orange fits on defense.
If Syracuse Wins: The Orange ups the record to 8-2 and also gets to remain in the top-25 rankings. Further, it gives Syracuse another one of those battles. ODU ain’t Duke, but it’s a good team with a good coach. These are the sneaky games that can only help, assuming the Orange doesn’t get run out of the Dome.
If Syracuse Loses: It wouldn’t look good, and Syracuse certainly would fall from the land of the Top 25. But, as has been stated, the Monarchs have some returning talent and just missed out on post-season play last year. In other words, if the Orange is going to drop a “weird” non-conference home game, as seemingly has been the case forever, then this contest isn’t the worst one to lose.
Fun Fact No. 1: According to the Virginia Pilot Online, Old Dominion will be paid $85,000 for playing this game at Syracuse. That will mean each player is set to receiv...what’s that? Oh. Okay. I’m being told that the players won’t see any of that money. Moving on.
Fun Fact No. 2: Did you know that Old Dominion’s field hockey team is a member of the Big East? Of course you didn’t know that! Either way, in other words, ODU is more connected to the Big East than UConn.