The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (8-5, 1-1) is hopefully putting 2019’s struggles behind them as we’ve turned the page to a new year and decade. And if not, well... going to be a rough couple months ahead.
Syracuse hosts the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4, 0-2) at the Dome as both teams could really go for a win in ACC play. Though the Irish have won three of four, they also lost to Boston College not too long ago. , as you’re well aware, haven’t looked too great against non-Georgia Tech Power Five teams.
Before the game tips off on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2, we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what they think will happen.
Syracuse 73, Notre Dame 68
This is a winnable game for sure. Notre Dame has some solid shooters, and John Mooney is going to eat us alive on the glass, but I still think this team can get it done in the Dome. I think Joe Girard will finally break out of his shooting funk and have a solid game, and the starting five will be just good enough to get us the victory down the stretch, playing a lot of minutes along the way.
Syracuse 73, Notre Dame 70
I think Syracuse’s ability to win this game is largely reliant on the Orange’s rebounding. SU’s frontcourt will be challenged by the Irish’s John Mooney, who averages well over a double-double. Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj have to be active on the glass, and the hope is that Jesse Edwards will be healthy enough to provide minutes if Sidibe struggles. I think the Orange still get outrebounded but make enough more three-pointers to win late.
Notre Dame 65, Syracuse 63
These two teams want to play slow and shoot 3s but I think the inside presence of John Mooney is going to be a problem for the Orange. If Syracuse can’t keep Mooney off the offensive glass, it’s going to lead for better looks for the Irish’s perimeter players. With questions about the health of Syracuse’s bench don’t expect the Orange to try to speed up Notre Dame but they might need to try and get the Irish out of rhythm with some half-court traps.
Notre Dame 73, Syracuse 70
Kevin and Dave already touched on Mooney, who leads the country in rebounding and in double-doubles. It doesn’t take a wild imagination to envision him flirting with 22 and 16 (rebounds and points, that is) and for the Syracuse centers to cycle through 10 fouls. Expect a lot of 3s to fly in this game, but Notre Dame taking the slight edge here by not turning the ball over (The Irish lead the country in that category). No vengeance at the dome from that Rex Pflueger tip in at the buzzer two years ago...
Notre Dame 79, Syracuse 71
It’s a pretty tough proposition for Syracuse to beat this specific Notre Dame team. Not only is the starting lineup reasonably good at hitting threes, but John Mooney is a particular problem in the middle on both ends of the floor. Unless the Orange suddenly develop a real presence inside, this one seems unlikely to go well for them. Really hoping I’m wrong here.
Syracuse 75, Notre Dame 73
This could be one of the better games in conference play, and one that’ll almost immediately decide if SU is a legitimate competitor in this conference. The Irish thrived defensively in non-conference play, in the 90th percentile overall, with John Mooney a clear matchup issue inside. They’re also an extremely inefficient offense, with even Mooney shooting less than 50%. This’ll be a game decided by who can get the most possessions and I ultimately hand Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim’s efficient shooting the edge over Notre Dame’s clear advantage inside.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Notre Dame?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and 2020’s off to a great start
Notre Dame, and this seems familiar