The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season hangs in the balance with the team sitting at 8-7 overall and 1-3 in league play. A loss to the Virginia Cavaliers (11-3, 3-1) on Saturday is expected, but would also be jarring as it would virtually close the door on this year — with about two months of games still to play.
Last time these two squads met, they set basketball back decades in a 48-34 win for UVA at the Dome to start off the season. No one wants to rewatch that nonsense. Win or lose, I guess the hope is that we just don’t need to see such a horrendous display of hoops again. Alas, Virginia’s style of play and our on and off again offensive issues could wind up dictating it.
Before the game tips off on Saturday night at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN, we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what this #LOUDINTIMACY could look like.
Virginia 59, Syracuse 54
The Orange will score almost exactly what Virginia gives up on average, which will still be a vast improvement over the first time these two met. I wish I was more optimistic for Syracuse, but nothing I’ve seen this season leads me to believe they’ve turned the corner enough to beat the Cavaliers. Look for Mamadi Diakite to have his way with Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj on the interior, and for Braxton Key and Casey Morsell to lock down Elijah Hughes for huge stretches of the game. Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard will do their best to keep it close, but the pack line defense once again proves too much for the Orange in the end.
Virginia 61, Syracuse 55
This sequel can’t get any worse than the original (right?), but it’s very likely it won’t be enjoyable. Virginia is beatable, as proven by its loss to Boston College this week, but whether the Orange can attack the Hoos’ pack-line defense better than they did at the start of the season remains to be seen. The Orange offense has improved in the last two months, but the weakness of the zone and the fact that this is one is on the road will give Virginia the edge. I think we see a slightly closer and more exciting game, but the Orange still fall back to .500 on the season.
Syracuse 49, Virginia 48
Look this college basketball season makes no sense so what would be more Syracuse than losing two games at home and then going on the road and beating a team that already held them below 40 points. Virginia’s going to kill Syracuse inside but what if the Orange force Kihei Clark to run around screens for 40 minutes chasing Joe Girard and that keeps him for being able to get into the Syracuse zone? At some point Syracuse is going to make enough shots to get an upset so why not this game?
Virginia 60, Syracuse 52
Had Syracuse won the last two games, we’d all be talking about how a win here could vault the Orange into the NCAA Tournament discussion. Instead, we’re talking about which three letter post-season tournament SU will participate in. As for this game specifically, it looks like Braxton Key is a go for Virginia after aggravating his surgically-repaired wrist in the loss (!) to BC. Even though the Hoos work with more bricks than masonry workers, Syracuse’s offense should mirror Tuesday’s with one-on-one play to minimal avail against the Virginia defense. Jay Huff gets a double-double, Kody Stattmann chucks up a bunch of bricks and the Hoos still win by three possessions.
Virginia 63, Syracuse 50
On the bright side, this game won’t be as ugly as the first one since both teams are a little more aware of what they are. Unfortunately for Syracuse, “what they are” is a young and banged-up team that’s streaky shooting the ball and struggles on the defensive end. This Virginia squad isn’t the picture of efficiency the way others have been (they’re 204th on KenPom in that department). But there’s enough ability to drive the lane on a weak interior D to make the difference when combined with UVA’s typically strong defense. R.I.P. season.
Virginia 60, Syracuse 54
Think we get another close one and wouldn’t be stunned to see the Orange pull this upset off after Boston College did. Two things swing this one in Virginia’s favor to me: Braxton Key’s availability and Syracuse’s inability to close games defensively. The Cavaliers are a horrid offense, they made Syracuse’s defense look capable on opening night, but can SU keep Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff off the boards late? They couldn’t contain Kihei Clark last time. I will not be fooled by the Orange again until they close a strong second half, even though this is the prime game for them to bounce back — when they seem done on the road.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Virginia?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and we’re not dead yet!
Virginia, and welp...