Teams: Syracuse Orange (6-5, 1-1) vs. North Florida Ospreys (7-6, 0-0)
Date & Time: Saturday, December 21 at 6 p.m. ET
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
Extended Forecast: High of 34, partly cloudy
TV/Streaming: ACC Network
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has an 89.3% chance to win this one.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 1-0, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Orange
First/Last Meeting: In the only meeting between these two schools back in 2016, Syracuse won a close one, 77-71 at the Dome. Andrew White led four Orange players in double figures with 26 points, and Frank Howard chipped in with 10 points and 13 assists. Dajuan Coleman also had one of his best offensive games for Syracuse basketball with 15 points.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,051-384 at SU) | North Florida - Matthew Driscoll (11th Year, 170-173 at North Florida)
Coach Bio: Matthew Driscoll has been the coach at North Florida since 2009 and has led the Ospreys to two regular season Atlantic Sun championships (2015, 2016) and one tournament championship in 2015. In the 2015 NCAA Tournament, North Florida lost to Robert Morris in the first round play-in game, 81-77.
Driscoll is the winning-est coach in North Florida history, and here’s a weird fun fact: his teams hold all of the school’s single season records, except for steals.
Last Year: North Florida finished the season at 16-17, losing in the second round of the ASUN Tournament to Liberty, 71-63. They were 9-7 in conference in the regular season and were known most for the volume of three-point shots they took. They were 20th in the country in attempts at 27.5 per game last year. This year, they are first in the nation at 31.3 per game. Syracuse basketball is 29th at 27.1 per game.
Last Game: North Florida lost to 19th ranked Florida State, 98-81. While giving up 98 points is never a good thing, the Ospreys offense was anything but offensive. They drained 13 three-pointers, and three different Ospreys drilled four treys each. Have I mentioned they like the three-ball before?
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: The Ospreys are more like a hydra than a hawk. And for those that don’t get my obscure Greek mythology reference, I mean that you cut one head off and two more grow in its place. It’s scoring by committee for North Florida.
Carter Hendricksen, Ivan Gandia-Rosa, Garrett Sams, J.T. Escobar and Wajid Aminu are all averaging 10 points per game for UNF. All five shoot 35% or better from three-point range. Four of them are better than 40% on the year.
So expect a lot of inside scoring from them. ;)
If Syracuse Loses: The Orange are the second youngest team in the ACC behind Duke. We are starting a freshman point guard, a center who hasn’t really played in two years, and a sophomore who is playing way more than he needs to be. A loss stings, but at this point, we have a good idea who this team is, so a loss here wouldn’t shock me, especially if we have an off shooting night.
If Syracuse Wins: Another experience-building opportunity for a young team. I really do expect us to win. I think this team is starting to get a sense of who they are. Marek Dolejaz is showing a lot of growth, Elijah Hughes is an absolute star, and Buddy Boeheim is finding his offense, if inconsistently. If we can get a couple more guys involved and just hold down the fort defensively, good things will happen.
Fun Fact 1: The mascot for UNF is named Ozzie the Osprey. The mascot for Syracuse is Otto the Orange. What does it all mean? *spooky sounds*
Fun Fact 2: UNF outscored the Orange 48-43 in the second half in the only previous meeting between these two teams. Let’s hope Jim Boeheim reminds the team of that and we see a solid 40 minutes.