The Syracuse Orange (19-10, 10-6) handled their business on the road against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but now they have the No. 2-ranked Virginia Cavaliers (26-2, 14-2) coming into the Carrier Dome for the final home game of the season.
This is the final chance for the Orange to grab a huge victory in the regular season, as a road matchup with Clemson (Quad 1 win on the road, but not same level in terms of resume boost) follows Monday night’s game in the regular season finale. It’s been a year of ups-and-downs for the TNIAAM team in terms of predictions, but let’s see if they think the Orange can pull off the upset.
Virginia 71, Syracuse 59
You’ve heard it before: “This Virginia team is different.” They are. UVA is top-5 in the country in both offensive (4th) and defensive (2nd) efficiency. They also match up extremely well against Syracuse. De’Andre Hunter (6-foot-7, 225 pounds and extremely athletic) figures to match up with Tyus Battle. Mamadi Diakite (6-foot-9, 228, also very athletic) will check Oshae Brissett. SU is going to need someone to step up on the offensive end. Marek Dolezaj is an X-factor in this one; when he is at center, he will be a mismatch for Virginia. It won’t be enough, though. Cavs roll.
Syracuse 65, Virginia 63
Back before the Louisville game I said Syracuse would have two more ranked wins on the season, including the one against the Cardinals—well, here’s the second of those two ranked wins. This is going to be a defensive masterpiece by both sides, as both teams are going to be forced to make contested shots—what better player than Tyus Battle to do so. The junior guard lives for big games and clutch moments, and a buzzer beating pull up jumper from the free throw line will solidify Syracuse’s spot in the Big Dance with a cherry on top.
Virginia 63, Syracuse 52
This feels like a game the Orange should be able to compete in given its style, low-possession and speed. But Virginia plays this game so much better than SU. The Cavaliers run teams off the three-point line, shoot it 40 percent themselves, limit the amount of free throws they allow and rank second in ACC defensive rebounding.
Given the amount of NCAA Tournament bubble talk surrounding Syracuse, I think we forget the more important question: can they punch up to the best in the NCAA? Outside of the Duke win, it doesn’t appear so to this point. Virginia’s another chance to prove they can, but given the Cavs’ offensive activity between Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter, paired with that defense, paired with an Orange offense that barely gets two guys going many nights I’d be stunned if they’re able to stay in this game. This one could get as ugly as the 44-point performance ‘Cuse put up against UVA last year.
Virginia 62, Syracuse 53
The tempo for this game should be real slow as both teams want to make their opponents use a lot of the shot clock. Virginia’s perimeter players are a concern for the Orange as the zone will have to be very active to account for Jerome, Guy and Hunter. If Syracuse wants to get the upset, they will need to convert offensive rebounds and try to get some baskets in transition. The Orange will stay close, but Virginia pulls away in the final minutes.
Virginia 65, Syracuse 60
I fully suspect this game to be played in the 60’s given that both squads play at a relatively low-tempo pace and the defense-first focus that both teams employ. Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy can still make really tough shots and Deandre Hunter can be really tricky in the 2-3 zone. We should see a lot of Tyus Battle one on one in this game and look for Buddy Boeheim to log some heavy minutes tonight as a floor spacer.
I think the Virginia offense does just enough to get over the hump while the Syracuse offense struggles for most of the night outside of Battle. The loss won’t change the big picture for Syracuse by any means. No harm done to the Orange tournament profile here.
Virginia 61, Syracuse 56
This score makes it seem closer than it actually may end up being. The Orange put up a good fight, but I think Virginia keeps them out of reach for much of the contest by way of some suffocating defense and timely shooting whenever SU looks to tighten things up. Recent efforts show that Syracuse has definitely improved over the course of the year. Just not sure it’s enough to knock off the Hoos this time.
Who will win the Syracuse vs. Virginia game?
This poll is closed
The Orange, and the NCAAs are a complete lock
The Hoos, and the focus turns toward the road showdown with Clemson