Coming off of two straight losses to ACC power houses (Duke and UNC), the Syracuse Orange did what they had to and got the road win against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in convincing fashion on Saturday.
Now the Orange have one of the hardest tests of their season walking into the Carrier Dome in the No. 2 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. This is the final home game of the season, so let’s see if the Orange can muster up a little more home magic.
Can the Orange find any dribble penetration?
The Cavaliers are known for their defensive prowess, as they make it miserable for their opponent to find easy looks for a full 40-minutes. The Orange are going to need to make some challenging shots if they’re going to come away with the win, but they can’t just rely on a few desperation heaves to carry them to this win.
Syracuse was able to get to the lane with ease against the Demon Deacons, as Elijah Hughes and Tyus Battle found ways to get to the rim off the dribble. Virginia poses a much bigger challenge in terms of beating them off the dribble, but the Orange need to find a way to get easy buckets around the rim—that starts with not settling for contested jumpers, but instead attacking Virginia off the bounce from the perimeter whenever they get a chance.
Can Tyus Battle put on another classic performance?
Battle has given us endless amounts of memorable performances in his career in orange, but coach Jim Boeheim is going to need another one Monday night if Syracuse is going to pull off the upset. Battle had a game high 21 points against the Demon Deacons, as he was able to get to his pull up jumper with ease, but he was also finishing plays around the rim—a good sign for Monday.
Battle has a knack for showing up when it matters most, and Monday night’s showdown with the Cavaliers is another chance for Battle to add another chapter to his already impressive career at Syracuse.
Oshae Brissett as the screener
The Orange found a lot of success using Oshae Brissett as the screener against Wake Forest, as his versatility made him a weapon coming off of the screen for both himself and the ball handler. Virginia is as smart of a defensive team as there is in the nation, so the Orange need to throw them multiple looks on offense in order to find enough success to win—using Brissett as the screener could be an effective tool to get open shots for the perimeter players.
The De’Andre Hunter problem
De’Andre Hunter is going to be a problem for the Orange, as his versatility as an offensive and defensive player will be hard to slow down. Hunter is an elite defensive stopper, and whoever he is guarding on Monday night is going to need to play strong with the ball in order to limit any giveaways.
Hunter is also Virginia’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, as he can dominate inside while also stretching the floor to the perimeter. Syracuse is going to need all hands on deck if they want to limit Hunter’s success on both ends of the floor.
A potential Marek Dolezaj show
Syracuse is going to need Marek Dolezaj to continue his recent style of play if they are going to pull off the upset. His versatility as a passer and playmaker at the center position could be a big help in finding some easy shots for the perimeter players. Paschal Chukwu will have his chance to use his size to his advantage, but this may be a game where Dolezaj gets the bulk of the center minutes for the Orange.