The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is on the road yet again, against a familiar foe in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. These two squads faced off just over two weeks ago with ND pulling out a close 88-87 win at the Dome, so it would be ideal to return the favor in South Bend on Wednesday night.
Since that last matchup, these two teams have been on divergent paths. Syracuse has managed to go 3-1 in the meantime, including road wins at Virginia and Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, the Irish have gone 1-2 with losses to NC State and Louisville, and a tight victory over Georgia Tech in their last game. Both teams could really use a win. We’re obviously pulling for the guys in orange to get it, though.
Before the game tips off on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. ET — televised on ESPN2 — we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what this one could look like.
Syracuse 76, Notre Dame 70
Syracuse keeps the winning streak alive with yet another road victory. Notre Dame is a good team, but it also took a Herculean effort from John Mooney (28 points, 14 rebounds) and a nearly 45% showing from beyond the arc to get the win the first time. Granted, SU also shot 45% from beyond the arc in game one, but I think the Syracuse defense has improved quite a bit in the past couple weeks. I think the Orange will get out on the shooters and at least contain Mooney more effectively, leading to a solid win and a 4-0 ACC road record.
Notre Dame 74, Syracuse 70
Despite their vastly different ACC fortunes, the gap between these two on either end of the floor hasn’t separated much since they both flung 15 successful three-pointers back-and-forth at the Dome. Syracuse led by four with just over four minutes remaining in that game and could not hold John Mooney off the boards. He’s an awe-inspiring college talent and nightmare for this Orange team’s deficiencies. I’m not sure if Prentiss Hubb will convert six threes, but I know Mooney can go for 30 points and 15 rebounds against this back line. We’ll see if more minutes from Quincy Guerrier and fewer from Bourama Sidibe can counteract him. Guerrier grabbed 10 points and five rebounds last time, but also posted four fouls in 17 minutes.
Syracuse 73, Notre Dame 64
Syracuse and Notre Dame have gone in different directions since the Orange lost to the Irish on Jan. 4. After losing a close game at home to Virginia Tech, SU has now won three in a row. And in each of their last four games, the Orange have shown an improved defense compared to the one that let the Irish score 88 points at the Dome last time. Meanwhile, the Irish have lost two of their last three. If Syracuse is to even the season series and pick up another conference road win against Notre Dame, it will have to limit the Irish’s perimeter shooting. I think John Mooney will have another big game inside, but the Orange should be able to withstand that if they make more three-pointers than the Irish this time. I think the trio of Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim, and Joe Girard III will light it up from distance again, and the Orange, who have finally shown an ability to close tight games, will get enough defensive stops to pull away in the final minutes.
Notre Dame 79, Syracuse 75
I don’t think both teams will shot close to 50% from 3 again so the advantage should swing to the team with a better inside game and that’s Notre Dame. John Mooney was the reason the Irish came back on the Orange in the first game and it’s hard to imagine Syracuse being able to contain him in this one. Bourama Sidibe has to avoid early foul trouble in this one and Syracuse needs to control the pace if they want to keep the winning streak going.
Notre Dame 72, Syracuse 69
Give me every bit of this Joe Girard vs. Prentiss Hubb rematch. This is a tough game for Syracuse against a skilled Notre Dame squad. In a classic case of pick your poison, do you try to slow the Irish perimeter shooting attack and allow John Mooney to eat inside? Or do you try to slow the big man and give up open looks from deep? I think the Syracuse offense keeps things close in South Bend, but nothing stands in the way of Mooney’s 12th consecutive double-double. In fact, he probably finishes with a double double-double (20 points, 20 boards).
Notre Dame 75, Syracuse 73
I think Syracuse is better on both ends of the floor than they were last time these teams played, but also don’t know how sustainable the recent Buddy Boeheim-led outbursts are. If the Orange come out with a balanced attack that leans not just on Buddy and Elijah Hughes but the more involved Marek Dolezaj and Quincy Guerrier, then I’m a little more convinced they pull off another win here. Even still, they’ll have to stop John Mooney and I’m not sure any SU defender is up for that on the inside. It’ll be close, but I think the hot streak stops here, at least temporarily.
Now it’s your turn...
Who wins the game between Syracuse and Notre Dame?
This poll is closed
Syracuse and that feeling you have is hope
Notre Dame, and alas...