Teams: Syracuse Orange (0-0) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (0-0)
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 6 at 9 p.m. ET
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y. (if you’re buying tickets, do so here)
Extended Forecast: High of 44, mostly sunny. Winter is coming.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Virginia blog: Streaking the Lawn
Rivalry: 5-7 (Virginia)
Current Streak: 3, Virginia
First Meeting: Syracuse and Virginia first met in the 1983-84 season with, you guessed it, Boeheim coaching the Orange. What a shocker, I know. Syracuse was ranked 18th at the time, but Virginia had the last laugh, winning the game 63-55. Let’s hope there’s a bit more scoring and a different winner this time around.
Last Meeting: One of the single most ridiculous basketball games I’ve ever seen. Syracuse actually played quite well for the first 25 minutes and even had the lead. But how can any team compete when their opponent drops in a record-shattering 18 3-pointers at a 75 percent clip? The answer is, they can’t. Virginia ended up pulling away for a 79-53 blowout, the most lopsided in the 12-game history between the two squads.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,045-379) | Virginia - Tony Bennett (11th Year, 254-89)
Coach Bio: Tony Bennett has quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in college basketball. His pack line defense stymies opponents year in and year out, and it seems that regardless of personnel, Bennett puts a team out there that will play hard and win a lot of games. Last year, he led Virginia to their first national championship, just one season after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 in NCAA tournament history. Bennett lost a lot of key players from last year’s squad so there could be some early season growing pains.
Last Year: We all know the story by now. Syracuse under-performed and just barely squeaked into the NCAA tournament. They were quickly ousted by Baylor. Virginia cruised all season and turned it into a national championship (though not without a little test from another 16-seed for half of their first round matchup).
Last Game: Syracuse looked quite good in their exhibition game against Carleton. After playing well in Italy and in the first exhibition against Daemen, the team looks to be taking shape and building some chemistry. Neither Daemen or Carleton were a complete pushover, so it was good to see that the team didn’t fall apart in the face of adversity. Now the real test comes against Virginia.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: After losing Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, and Ty Jerome to the NBA draft, there probably aren’t a ton of familiar faces. One that should stick out however, is that of Mamadi Diakite, the 6-foot-9 big man. Last season, Diakite was a blond-haired bulldozer in Virginia’s NCAA tournament run, averaging 9.2 points and 8 rebounds per game. He also had a monstrous 16 blocks in the tournament. He is a force on the interior, and will make it incredibly difficult for Syracuse to get any kind of inside presence in this game.
If Syracuse Wins: What’s better than knocking off a top-15 opponent to start the season? Doing so against last season’s national champs.
If Syracuse Loses: A good learning experience against most likely the best defense they’ll face all year. If it’s a close loss, I think the team learns a lot. If it’s a blowout, it could hurt the confidence of some of the younger guys.
Fun Fact 1: Jim Boeheim and Tony Bennett are 35th and 40th all-time, respectively, in men’s college basketball win percentage as head coaches. Boeheim is second in all-time wins.
Fun Fact 2: If Syracuse wins, it would be back-to-back wins against former national champions (Virginia and Carleton). I’m not sure if it’s the first time that it would ever have happened, but it would certainly be rare.