The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (7-5, 1-1) did you a favor and wasn’t around for the last six days. But as we close out non-conference play, it’s time to see the Orange one more time before 2019 concludes.
Syracuse hosts the Niagara Purple Eagles (2-8, 0-0) for the first time in quite awhile, and are poised to pick up win No. 3 in a row prior to ACC play. Niagara’s coached by a familiar face in former Orange quarterback Greg Paulus. Otherwise, the most notable thing about the Purple Eagles is that they’re a bottom-50ish team on both offense and defense.
Before the game tips off on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network Xtra (streaming), we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what they think will happen.
Syracuse 86, Niagara 63
I don’t expect this game to be close. It’s possible that Niagara gets hot and hangs with ‘Cuse early, but I think the game will be over by the early second half. I think the outside shooting from the Orange will be way too much for the Purple Eagles to handle, and without a solid interior presence, the athleticism gap will be far too big for Niagara to overcome. Look for Elijah Hughes to light them up early, and for the young freshmen quartet of Quency Guerrier, Joe Girard, Brycen Goodine, and Jesse Edwards to see plenty of playing time.
Syracuse 85, Niagara 56
Syracuse’s season-long streak of games decided by double digits will not end when Niagara comes to the Dome on Saturday. The Purple Eagles (#312 on KenPom) look to be the Orange’s worst opponent on the schedule. Niagara is especially weak on defense (#344 on KenPom), on the boards (26.5 rebounds per game, last in the nation) and from three-point range (32.5 percent). This should provide the Orange with a dominant win to boost confidence prior to ACC play, especially if SU’s frontcourt has an active and dominant outing on the glass. Expect the Orange to pull away early and cruise to a win similar to last month against Bucknell.
Syracuse 85, Niagara 62
This shouldn’t be close as the Purple Eagles have trouble stopping anyone and the Syracuse offense should find plenty of shots inside and out on Saturday night. I think Greg Paulus will try to pressure the Orange guards early so expect to see the ball in the hands of Marek Dolezaj and Elijah Hughes early and often. This game should give Jim Boeheim an opportunity to get Edwards, Braswell and Goodine some extended run.
Syracuse 82, Niagara 55
This game won’t even be close as Syracuse stays true to form and closes out the non-conference schedule by not playing a game decided by single-digits. Elijah Hughes flirts with another 20+ point performance, while Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard pour it on from deep. The Orange move to 8-5 and everyone gets their Greg Paulus jokes in.
Syracuse 87, Niagara 58
Niagara’s struggled all season and while you can certainly say the same about Syracuse, the Orange have at least shown themselves able to score points and put some wins together — plus you know, the obvious talent gap between these two. Walk-ons end up in on the early end as SU runs by the Purple Eagles in a confidence-boosting warm-up to ACC play.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Niagara?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and you can keep New Year’s Eve drinking to a happy level
Niagara, and there isn’t an alcoholic beverage left in CNY