The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has now won five straight, and in case you’d found a way to emotionally remove yourself following the rough start, you’re likely back in — or close to it — by this point. Next up as SU tries to make it six in a row: the Clemson Tigers.
Clemson’s weird this year, as they’ve swept Duke, NC State and UNC, but also lost to Miami and Yale and a bunch of other teams in non-conference. They also dropped a game to the Wolfpack and barely scraped by Wake Forest. Tempo-wise, they’re even slower than us, if you can believe it. though not nearly as efficient on the offensive end. That’s where their defense has made up some ground... in the wins anyway.
Before the game tips off on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. ET — streaming on ACCNX — we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what this one could look like.
Syracuse 76, Clemson 72
I’m letting it ride on Orange. Although I’m not quite as confident in this pick as the last couple, I still think Syracuse has a great shot to pick up a sixth straight win and fifth ACC road victory. Clemson is not a very large team (Aamir Simms plays center for them at 6-foot-8), they’re not a good rebounding team (313th in division 1), and they’re not a great offensive team (68.3 points per game, 293rd nationally). I think Clemson will play tough defense, but the outside shooting from Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes, coupled with the continued growth of Marek Dolezaj and a bounce back game for Joe Girard will be too much for the Tigers to handle. The Orange move to 7-3 in conference and 5-0 on the road, and the real NCAA Tournament talk begins.
Syracuse 74, Clemson 66
Even though this game’s on the road and Clemson has upset potential (see: Duke), I think the Tigers present some favorable matchups for the Orange. Most significant is that Clemson has one of the worst transition defenses in the country while Syracuse has one of the best, according to Synergy Sports. The Tigers also, like the Orange, allow opponents to shoot a lot of 3-pointers, and if these two teams engage in a shootout tonight, I like SU’s chances, as the Orange shoot 3.5 percentage points better from deep. One last advantage is rebounding, where Syracuse averages 36.4 per game to Clemson’s 34.1. I expect at least two of Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim, and Joe Girard III to get hot from outside, along with more solid output from Bourama Sidibe and Marek Doleaj, to lead the Orange to their sixth-straight win.
Syracuse 70, Clemson 68
Brownell’s group routed NC State, UNC and Duke after losses to South Carolina, Yale and Miami in the previous four games. They’re adept at winning games in the 70s, but scored fewer than 62 points five times in the last 11 games. They’re one of the wackier ACC squads this year, so it wouldn’t be stunning to see them pull this game out. As Jim Boeheim said, the Orange are improving in a wins-losses sense lately, but their near collapses against Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh show the defense still needs to improve drastically. Another close one swings in SU’s favor due to Clemson’s 32% three-point shooting and sub-300th offensive and overall rebounding rankings.
Syracuse 72, Clemson 70
On paper this should be an easy game because the Tigers love shooting 3s and don’t do it well. Since we’re Syracuse fans we know it won’t be easy and Aamir Simms is a big reason why. The Orange need to try and limit his damage on the boards and avoid the kind of foul trouble that can hurt this team in a game they don’t want to lose. This looks like another game where Buddy Boeheim can do some damage so Syracuse should continue his first-half feedings in this one. I think it’s another nail-biter that comes down to Syracuse having the better talent.
Syracuse 69, Clemson 67
This is a (Clyde) Trapp game for Syracuse, but the Orange find a way to win to continue the win streak. The real question is what suit will Brad Brownell’s mom lay out for him against Syracuse?
Syracuse 71, Clemson 66
It’s tough to get a read on this Clemson squad given the wins and losses, though when you look at the roster, it seems like an ideal matchup for SU. Aamir Simms is the primary inside threat on offense, and one of the team’s two major contributors on the boards. They don’t shoot threes incredibly well (32.1% as a group) — though Simms and John Newman both hit at least 34% of theirs. Like most games of late, it’ll come down to whether shots fall for the Orange, and if the defense holds up late. I think both will happen on Tuesday and SU gets the win. However, it’s worth acknowledging that Syracuse has been operating at maximum effectiveness lately, and some regression (somewhere) would appear inevitable.
Now it’s your turn...
Who wins the game between Syracuse and Clemson?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and we’re cooking with gas
Clemson, and we burned dinner