Teams: Syracuse Orange (4-3, 0-1) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2, 0-0)
Date & Time: Tuesday, December 3rd at 7 p.m. ET
Location: The Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Extended Forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 33. Don’t forget your snow boots!
The Line: No line at current, though ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Syracuse a 59.5 percent chance of winning, as surprising as that may sound.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 1-2, Iowa
Current Streak: 1, Syracuse.
First Meeting: Syracuse basketball first played Iowa in 1957, with the Orange losing a closely contested game, 58-52. Syracuse was led by 6-foot senior Larry Loudis, who scored 19 points. The team also featured Syracuse basketball legend Jon Cincebox, who averaged over 19 points and an impressive 16.4 rebounds per game for the season!
Last Meeting: The last meeting was in 2014, a 66-63 Syracuse basketball win. Chris McCullough led the way for the Orange with 20 points and 10 rebounds, one of his best games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in early January.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,049-382 at SU) | Iowa - Fran McCaffery (9th Year, 179-134 at Iowa)
Coach Bio: Fran McCaffery has been the coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes since 2010. From 2012 to 2015, the team topped 20 wins every season, with three NCAA tournament appearances and a runner-up in the NIT. Iowa also went 23-12 last year and made it to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
Prior to coaching the Hawkeyes, McCaffery was the head coach at Siena for five years. He brought them to the Big Dance in each of his last three seasons, winning both the regular season and conference tournaments in the MAAC all three years. He was also a coach at Lehigh in the late 1980s, and for UNC Asheville from 1999 to 2004. Overall, Fran has a 429-310 record at the collegiate level, and is currently 5-2 on the season.
Last Year: Iowa had a solid year, going 23-12 and finishing in 6th place in the Big Ten conference. That was good enough to land them a spot in the NCAA tournament, where they won their first game against Cincinnati before being ousted by Tennessee.
Last Game: Iowa is coming off a 10-point loss to San Diego State. They actually led the game by nine going into halftime, but a tremendous 28-point second half from Malachi Flynn helped SDSU to the win.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Luka Garza, the 6-foot-11 big man for Iowa has been a terror in the middle all season for the Hawkeyes. Averaging 19.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in just 27 minutes, Garza has dominated the early season and is a solid contender for All-Big Ten honors.
Luka has a very polished all-around game and does an exceptional job of anchoring the middle of the floor for the Hawkeyes and protecting the paint. On top of his 10 rebounds, Garza also averages 1.7 blocks per game, making him an intimidating presence around the basket.
And if that wasn’t enough reason to fear him, Garza is also a very competent outside shooter. He’s hitting more than 47 percent of his 3-pointers on the year, and has made two or more in three of the Hawkeye games this year. Containing Garza at all levels will be essential if Syracuse wants to win this game.
If Syracuse Wins: A collective sigh of relief from the fanbase. Again, I despise the words “must win” at this point in the season, but we’re starting to get to that territory. A win here would go a long way to build some confidence for a clearly shaken Syracuse basketball team and could be the catalyst to turning this season around.
If Syracuse Loses: Get out the pitchforks. Three straight losses to middling P5 teams would be a colossal failure, even for a team as green as this year’s Syracuse Orange. If you thought the collective groans of the fanbase were bad already, it will be magnified with a third straight loss, especially to a team with as many question marks as Iowa.
Fun Fact 1: Fran’s son Connor McCaffery is a sophomore guard for the Iowa Hawkeys. Jim’s son Buddy Boeheim is a sophomore guard for the Syracuse Orange. Perhaps after the game they can have a father-son knockout tournament to decide who is the better tandem (my money is on the Boeheims).
Fun Fact 2: Famous Hawkeye alums include: former anchor of NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw, as well as actors Tom Arnold, Jake Johnson, Ashton Kutcher, Paul Rust, and Gene Wilder (rest in peace).