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Syracuse vs. Northeastern preview: What to watch for

Did Northeastern really play Davidson twice already?

NCAA Basketball: Cornell at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team will take on the Northeastern Huskies at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse (5-2) is coming off, a win albeit in a down game in which Cornell remained competitive throughout. The Orange are also riding a three-game winning streak into the contest.

Tuesday’s matchup will serve as a homecoming for Syracuse native and Northeastern’s junior leader Jordan Roland.

Opponent Preview: Northeastern

Northeastern (4-4), from the Colonial Athletic Association, is led by Jordan Roland who has averaged 21 points per game over his last three and 15.9 points per game for the season. Roland is shooting over 50 percent on three pointers on more than 50 attempts this season. Senior guard Vasa Pusica, a transfer from San Diego, chips in for the Huskies with 14.2 points per game, 4.2 assists per game and shoots 34.6 percent from deep.

Northeastern has four capable shooters in its rotation: Roland, Pusica, Donnell Gresham Jr. and Bolden Brace combine to shoot 43 percent from three on 20.8 three point attempts per game.

According to KenPom’s adjusted strength of schedule metric, the Huskies have been tested by the 21st most difficult schedule so far this season. Northeastern has squared off with major conference opponents Virginia Tech and Alabama and has notable matchups against notable mid-majors such as Harvard and Davidson (twice). Northeastern is 1-4 in these matchups with its lone win coming at Harvard.

The Huskies are led by coach Bill Coen who is in his 13th year with Northeastern.

What to Watch For:

Guarding Shooters

Syracuse allowed Cornell to hang around on the back of hot shooting. Cornell had open looks all night on its way to shooting 9 of 24 from three. Syracuse struggled to keep the ball out of the middle of the zone which led to pitch outs for good shots.

Syracuse allows an open three pointer on Saturday night.

Here, Cornell rotated the ball well and got the ball to the high post area in the middle of the zone. Frank Howard and Tyus Battle will need to do a better job of protecting the ball from getting to this area of the floor as it will lead to pass outs for open threes. Northeastern is the 19th-best three point shooting team in the country by percentage.


Syracuse has been rebounding well as of late: In its last three games, the Orange hold a 90-72 rebounding advantage. This can’t be understated as Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is more difficult to rebound out of than a traditional man-to-man defense.

Northeastern has 52 rebounds in eight games this season — good for 340th in the country. The Huskies are also 221st in the country in rebounding margin. By comparison, Syracuse has 85 offensive rebounds (136th in the country) and is 145th in rebounding margin. The Orange should have a significant advantage rebounding the ball in this matchup.

If Syracuse can dominate the glass, the Orange could end up with plenty of second chance opportunities on offense and limit Northeastern’s attempts on the defensive end.

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Third Scoring Option

Prior to Syracuse’s matchup with Cornell, Elijah Hughes was a consistent offensive threat for the Orange. Hughes disappeared on Saturday night with just four points on 1-of-3 shooting. Devoid of a third scoring option, the Orange had to rely heavily on Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett. Battle and Brissett alone totaled 71 percent of Syracuse’s 63 points on the night.

Syracuse can’t afford for scoring threats to be no-shows—especially against tougher opponents. The Orange will need someone to step up and score points out of Hughes, Frank Howard and Jalen Carey.

Center Rotation

In his post-game press conference after the Cornell game, Jim Boeheim was asked to assess Paschal Chukwu’s play. Boeheim responded, “(Chukwu) is not really a factor at either end of the court right now. I don’t think either one of our centers is.” These comments came after a game in which Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe took turns being benched for poor play on the defensive end.

On top of their recent struggles on defense, Chukwu and Sidibe have provided Syracuse with no production at the offensive end of the floor. Marek Dolezaj has played 8-10 minutes at center per game so far this season. After expressing frustration in Chukwu and Sidibe, will Boeheim give his best center more minutes?

For Syracuse basketball analysis, news and more, follow Dylan on twitter @dfines31.