Teams: Syracuse Orange (5-5, 1-1) vs. Oakland Golden Grizzlies (5-6, 0-0)
Date & Time: Wednesday, December 18 at 8 p.m. ET
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
Extended Forecast: High of 29 with snow showers. And it’s not even officially winter yet...
Odds: No line right now, but ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has a 90.5% chance to win this one.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 3-0, Syracuse
Current Streak: 3, Orange
First Meeting: Syracuse and Oakland met for the first time in 2008, with the Orange winning 86-66 behind 18 points from freshman sensation, Johnny Flynn. That team also featured Arinze Onuaku, Paul Harris, Kristof Onganaet, and Eric Devendorf in the starting lineup.
Last Meeting: The Orange beat the Golden Grizzlies 74-50 in 2017. Tyus Battle led the way for Syracuse basketball with 25 points, and Paschal Chukwu had one of his best games in Orange, scoring 12 points, pulling down 11 rebounds, and narrowly missing the triple double with 8 blocks.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,050-384 at SU) | Oakland - Greg Kampe (36th Year, 623-461 at Oakland)
Coach Bio: Behind Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim, Greg Kampe is the third longest active tenured coach in division one. He’s also 14th in wins by an active coach at 623. Under Kampe, Oakland has progressed from a division two doormat into a perennial contender in the Horizon league.
Last year was rather disappointing for the Golden Grizzlies, as they finished with a 16-17 record, just the 12th losing seasons out of Kampe’s 36 in Oakland. They also lost standout guard Kendrick Nunn to the NBA, who is now tearing it up for the Miami Heat, averaging more than 16 points per game (and likely sealing Dion Waiter bench-warming fate).
It’s been tough sledding early for Oakland, with close losses to Delaware, Toledo, and Bowling Green.
Last Year: Oakland finished third in the Horizon league with an 11-7 record, but never really threatened for an NCAA bid, losing in the second round of the conference tournament to Northern Kentucky.
Last Game: Oakland got blitzed by Michigan State, 72-49. The game was pretty much over by halftime, with the Spartans holding a commanding 34-19 lead and never looking back. The Golden Grizzlies were led by Xavier Hill-Mais, who had 10 points and 7 rebounds.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Let’s keep it right there with Xavier Hill-Mais. He leads the team in almost every statistical category, including points, rebounds, steals, blocks, and field goal percentage.
Hill-Mais is a 6-foot-7, 260 pound senior. To put that in perspective, Quincy Guerrier is 6-foot-7 and 220. What I’m trying to say is, Xavier Hill-Mais is big. Really big. With the paper thin front line Syracuse basketball puts on the floor, he could wreak havoc on the offensive glass.
If Syracuse Loses: At this point, nothing would surprise me with this year’s team. I honestly don’t think Oakland has much of a chance to actually win, but stranger things have happened. A loss here would be pretty devastating for the Orange. It would be an incredibly bad loss and pretty much seal Syracuse’s fate in terms of the NCAA tournament, which is already a long shot.
Fun Fact 1: Jim Boeheim and Greg Kampe have combined for 80 seasons and 1,673 wins between them. The last time either coach wasn’t at their respective alma mater, Ghandi won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and “Every Breath You Take” by The Police topped the music charts.
Fun Fact 2: Syracuse basketball has never beaten Oakland by less than 20 points. Let’s hope that trend continues on Wednesday.