Welcome to the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season! Jim Boeheim returns to the sidelines for the 44th season, and to start things off, the defending national champion (woof) Virginia Cavaliers come to town.
We’ve been talking about expectations for 2019-20 for months now, and it’s finally here. So what do we think happens when SU hosts UVA at 9 p.m. ET at the Carrier Dome (and on ACC Network for those of us watching from home)? The TNIAAM staff weighs in...
Syracuse 77, Virginia 72
I’ve been a bit bullish on the team all preseason, so why stop now? I think this will be a higher scoring contest than people think (please let it be higher scoring...) and more exciting than the previous few years of Syracuse basketball (please let it be more exciting). Three point shooting will be the difference, and in a role reversal from last year, we outshoot them from behind the arc to compensate for getting crushed all game on the interior. Elijah Hughes will showcase his talent and improved handle, scoring 20+ points and dishing out a handful of assists on his way to player of the game honors.
Virginia 64, Syracuse 61
There are two concerns I have heading into the Syracuse basketball season. Can the Orange take care of the basketball and can they rebound/defend inside against bigger teams? Unfortunately these are two areas I think Virginia is well suited to exploit and I give them the slight edge. If Syracuse can make shots early and force the Cavaliers to speed up I can certainly see them pulling off a win in the opener but this football season has temporarily robbed me of the ability to pick with my heart and not my head.
Syracuse 73, Virginia 71
Looking at both teams, there are a few things that work in the Orange’s favor. First, it’s a home game that should feature a packed Dome. Second, playing a young Virginia squad to start the season should be easier than their last trip to the Dome as a team one month away from a national championship. And third, to succeed against UVA’s pack-line defense, teams must shoot well from three-point range, especially on the drive and kick; this year’s Orange team figures to do just that, whereas Syracuse teams that struggled against the Cavaliers in recent years lacked three-point shooting. I think the Orange pull out a win, and because neither team’s defense will be in late-season form, it will be a higher-scoring contest.
Syracuse 67, Virginia 65
If the Orange strike any magic in ACC play it’s tonight. Tony Bennett’s concerns about the Cavaliers with a new cast of starters is legitimate entering the Dome. Home court is everything for me here. With some encouraging returns in the preseason from Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes, and with Marek Dolezaj available to step in for Bourama Sidibe in a pinch, SU has enough experience and shooting to grind out a close victory on offense. There are some matchup concerns, but if Syracuse protects the ball on offense they can sustain some defense lapses.
Virginia 64, Syracuse 63
On its face, it might not seem like these two teams have much in common. But two top defenses from a season ago will both look to replace four key players from last year. Ultimately, I think this game is decided on the defensive end with Virginia doing just enough to edge out a close conference victory on the road against Syracuse. Elijah Hughes might be the best player in this game, but the pack-line prevails over the 2-3 zone and the Orange fall to 0-1 on the year and in the league.
Virginia 67, Syracuse 61
Both teams are likely to come out a little rusty, breaking in new players and trying to get back into a rhythm on both ends of the floor. UVA’s younger additions potentially struggle a little with the zone early, and maybe the Orange’s own “kids” can’t get it going from three early against the pack line defense. Things stay pretty close for a while until the Hoos pull away just enough and hit free throws to seal the deal. Still, some valuable experience for Syracuse that could pay dividends later.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the Syracuse vs. Virginia game?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and welcome back to the top 25!
Virginia by 1-10 points and we can build on this
Virginia by 11 or more, and welp, onto the next game