The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (4-1, 0-1) has won four straight since dropping the opener vs. Virginia, but the level of competition in those games hasn’t exactly been high. Now we get to see if SU’s truly improved over time, as they head down to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for a matchup with the Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-0, 0-0).
Before things get going on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET (on ESPN2 for those watching from home), we asked the TNIAAM staff for predictions on what’s going to happen.
Syracuse 68, Oklahoma State 65
This is a tough game to call. Oklahoma State is most likely going to pressure our guards the whole game, and that has been a challenge for Syracuse basketball over the past several seasons. The Cowboys also have a big guy who can lock down the paint for them, which will make it tough for our offense to operate. However, I think this young SU squad will prove to be resilient. I think they will get punched in the mouth to start the game, trail at the half, but ultimately pull off the win behind clutch shooting from Elijah Hughes. Joe Girard will ice the game with a pair of free throws with under five seconds left, and ‘Cuse improves to 5-1 with another quality win. It only gets tougher from here.
Syracuse 70, Oklahoma State 64
Syracuse and Oklahoma State share some similarities. Both teams are strongest on defense, block a high percentage of shots, and hover around No. 70 in KemPom’s offensive efficiency rankings. But neither team has beaten another power conference opponent yet, and only Syracuse has faced one (a 48-34 loss to Virginia in the season opener). That leaves much left unknown about each squad. The game should be close, but I think SU has the edge. The Orange offense has looked much better the past few games, and Oklahoma State, a poor three-point shooting team thus far even against weak competition, will struggle against the 2-3 zone.
Syracuse 64, Oklahoma State 60
I’m very interested to see how Syracuse responds to the Cowboys defensive pressure and the interior presence of Yor Anei. Will the Orange try to get him away from the basket by using Marek Dolezaj at the 5 or will Syracuse rely on the outside shot? This is going to be a big test for Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim as they will be tasked with keeping the Ok. St guards from getting into the lane against the zone. Expect a defensive battle and I think Elijah Hughes makes enough plays for Syracuse to get a win.
Oklahoma State 65, Syracuse 63
Given both of these teams’ tendencies to focus and get things done on the defensive end, don’t be surprised if this game is played in the 60s. The Orange will need to limit the Oklahoma State head of attack in Lindy Waters and keep Yor Anei out of the paint and off the boards. I think the Syracuse offense will cool down considerably from last game against a tough man-to-man defensive team in a (somewhat) foreign environment. The play from Joe Girard will be key, specifically his ability to control pace and limit turnovers, as will the play of Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj from the center spot. Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim will rise to the occasion, but Syracuse falls just shy in its first game away from the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse 70, Oklahoma State 65
While Syracuse hasn’t necessarily been tested over the last few games, OK State’s foes thus far haven’t exactly been challenging either — yet the Cowboys have largely squeaked by. State has some ability to hit from outside, though it’s largely confined to two players (Lindy Waters III and Thomas Dziagwa), so we’ll see how much they’re able to stretch the zone. There’s some size inside with Yor Anei, though overall, the team’s not overly big. I think Syracuse is simply able to hit more jumpshots, earning them a quality win away from home.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Oklahoma State?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and the Orange keeping rolling
Oklahoma State, and now you have another thing to get mad about with your relatives on Thanksgiving