The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team was seemingly in ruins when they last met the Virginia Tech Hokies less than two weeks ago. SU was staring down the very real possibility of falling to .500 that following weekend and still hadn’t won an ACC game at the Dome this season. But much has changed — at least we hope — since.
Now, Syracuse has reeled off two straight wins and at least looks like a competent team again. But will that hold up against a Hokies squad that’s won three in a row and is a little too familiar with us? We certainly hope so if Jim Boeheim’s group is attempting to salvage what’s left of the 2019-20 slate.
Before the game tips off on Saturday night at noon ET on ACC Network Extra (streaming), we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what this one could look like.
Virginia Tech 70, Syracuse 66
If Syracuse can play like it did in the first half of its last game against Virginia Tech and shoot its season average, then this will be a win for the Orange. Most important, I think, is whether the Orange can get open looks against Virginia Tech’s high-pressure defense. But because it’s a road game and the Hokies will be more comfortable facing the 2-3 zone, like in the second half of the previous contest, I think SU loses. Don’t expect Virginia Tech, a good three-point shooting team on the season, to shoot poorly from outside again, especially at home. This one should be close, but I think the Orange miss a few too many shots in the final minutes.
Syracuse 70, Virginia Tech 68
Call me crazy, but this Syracuse basketball team is really starting to grow on me. Virginia Tech is a tenacious defensive team, but the Orange have faced that a lot this season, and they are finally starting to understand how to play against it. Movement off the ball and constant screens are essential. It worked well against Virginia and I think it works just well enough against Tech to squeak out a win. We need this one badly, and I think Joe Girard, Elijah Hughes, and Buddy Boeheim come up clutch down the stretch to secure a third straight victory and help us build momentum going into a series of very winnable games.
Virginia Tech 71, Syracuse 67
Expect another close game between these two teams. I don’t think Syracuse should trust that the Hokies will take 30 minutes to make some shots this time around. If the Orange are going to win it would be wise of Jim Boeheim to not play his starting backcourt all 40 minutes. Using Howard Washington in the first half can help Syracuse avoid a late-game collapse in a game they really need to win.
Virginia Tech 71, Syracuse 69
Landers Nolley should have a better performance against Syracuse the second time around, but Jalen Cone won’t sneak up on the Orange again. Still, Virginia Tech will pull this out down the stretch at home. Hokies fans everywhere hop in my mentions to inform me how much Syracuse sucks and how great of an arena Cassel Coliseum is.
Virginia Tech 70, Syracuse 67
Virginia Tech’s defense has performed reasonably well in ACC play aside from the Duke loss, and that’s likely to continue against a streaky Orange squad. But really, last time the Hokies needed the sudden emergence of Jalen Cone to pull away for the win. SU’s played looked capable enough on the road this year that I think it’ll be a tight game. As always, it’ll come down to making second half stops. Tech won’t shoot as poorly as BC and UVA did lately vs. Syracuse, so I’m guessing they do just enough late.
Syracuse 77, Virginia Tech 70
I’ve enjoyed watching the Orange play on the road immensely this season between the 97-point bomb they dropped on Georgia Tech, their 20-point overtime explosion over Virginia and even the steady offensive flow against Georgetown where SU shot 48% from the field and 43.8% from three in a loss.
This team’s hitting a stride and despite the exceedingly awful moments like the 22-6 run the Hokies pulled off at the Dome two weeks ago, Syracuse held its ground against Virginia Tech well outside of that. Bourama Sidibe moved up to press Wabissa Bede into turnovers, then the forwards ran out too shooters too aggressively allowing Cone to emerge through fouls. Cuse locked up Nolley until late. Buddy Boeheim’s recent surge with Elijah Hughes’ steady greatness will be enough this time.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Virginia Tech?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and we’re going streaking!
Virginia Tech, and that upswing was short-lived.