The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has dropped two in a row, and could really use a win if we have any hopes of resuscitating NCAA Tournament hopes. Perhaps thankfully, SU is paid a visit by the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Saturday night.
Wake’s... pretty much Wake this year. They’re 10-12 (3-9 in ACC play), pesky at times, have a solid scorer in Brandon Childress and also a potentially scary center in Olivier Sarr. They hung tough for quite awhile against Louisville in their last game, and KenPom has them as a better team (101st) than perhaps their record would indicate. This is a must-win, if only because most games are going forward.
Before the game tips off on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET — on ACC Network, as preordained by the fates — we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict the outcome.
Syracuse 79, Wake Forest 57
After two close losses, Syracuse is in real need of a win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive and perhaps get back on another winning streak. A week of rest and a matchup against ACC basement-dweller Wake Forest should make for an easier victory for the Orange. As of Friday, the Demon Deacons are ranked #101 on KenPom, and SU hasn’t had much difficulty this season against teams currently outside of the top 100. Wake also commits the second-most turnovers per game in the ACC, so expect Syracuse to get transition opportunities where it can thrive against the Demon Deacons’ #148-ranked defense. I think the Orange will get another blowout win against the conference’s bottom half, and SU’s cold streak from 3 will end as well.
Syracuse 74, Wake Forest 67
Over its last seven games, Wake Forest hasn’t lost a game by more than 10 points and its played Clemson, Notre Dame and Louisville on the road during that stretch. The Deacons should fully assess which way one week off worked for the Orange, rejuvenation or rust. I don’t think any of this supersedes their severe offensive limitations: sub-250th ranked efficiency (42.4% FG) and 277th in total makes (529). They shoot below 46% in transition and on spot-up jumpers, but run an efficient pick-and-roll to junior big Olivier Sarr. We now tune back to Syracuse issues against centers. Wake Forest also tags its opponents with the 33rd-most fouls in the country. This one will play out much like Pitt, frustrating and gruesome before the buzzer sounds on a victory.
Syracuse 80, Wake Forest 71
I think the Orange get hot from the outside after a week of rest. Even with a big game from Olivier Sarr for Wake Forest on the interior, it won’t be enough to overcome a solid offensive performance from Syracuse. We’ll get production from multiple players tomorrow, and I expect our trio of outside shooters (Elijah Hughes, Joe Girard, and Buddy Boeheim) to all hit multiple threes. I think we also get plenty of Quincy Guerrier in the game, and he’ll use his size and athleticism to great effect on the glass.
Syracuse 78, Wake Forest 66
With a week of rest and recovery behind them I wouldn’t be shocked if Syracuse started slow but I expect them to find their rhythm against a struggling Wake team. The Orange will need to try and keep Brandon Childress and Olivier Sarr in check as they are the Demon Deacons’ biggest offensive threats. You’d like to see Syracuse avoid foul trouble and control this game in order to give Brycen Goodine and Jesse Edwards some minutes with members of the starting five. This game is one the Orange have to win to keep themselves in the NCAA Tournament conversation.
Syracuse 80, Wake Forest 68
The battle of the coaches’ sons, baby! Syracuse shouldn’t have much problem winning this game at home. I look for Buddy Boeheim to get back on track. The Orange will have to limit Brandon Childress and Andrien White, brother of Andrew White, will probably come in and hit six 3s just because. But Elijah Hughes, Joe Girard, Marek Dolezaj and Boeheim quartet produce enough offensively to cruise in this one.
Syracuse 84, Wake Forest 76
If it wasn’t for the long break for Syracuse, I’d probably be even more likely to favor Wake here. I don’t think the Deacons are a better team, but Sarr seems uniquely predisposed to killing us inside while also getting the Orange bigs in foul trouble. So count on a big game from him, and be concerned about what Andrien White can do from outside too. However, if SU can keep control of the pace of play and hit at a better clip from outside than what we saw vs. Duke, I think it’s enough. If Marek Dolezaj manages to stay out of foul trouble, that should be the biggest difference-maker of all.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Wake Forest?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and it feels nice to win again
Wake Forest, and "WAYLP."