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Syracuse men’s basketball vs. Georgetown preview: Things to watch

“Big East Week” continues.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Syracuse Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Aspects of the first month or so of the 2021-22 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season have trended toward nostalgia. While we missed the matchup with UConn in the Battle 4 Atlantis, Syracuse faced off with Indiana less than two weeks ago, and more notably, was up against former Big East foe Villanova this Wednesday at MSG. Now, we cap things off with another trip down memory lane: A visit to the despised Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday.

Before things tip off at noon ET from Capital One Arena The House That Rakeem Christmas Built, the TNIAAM staff previews the matchup with some key things to watch:

John: Battle on the boards (and its effect on Jesse Edwards)

Syracuse isn’t a great rebounding team, obviously, and they’re certainly not as good of a rebounding team as Georgetown (the Hoyas average nearly 43 per game while SU averages short of 37). But more than that, Georgetown is also one of the better offensive rebounding teams around — No. 27, according to KenPom. That’s a problem as it is, but even more of one for Jesse Edwards. While Edwards doesn’t crash the boards as much as other big men, he’s also prone to foul trouble. A Hoyas squad that attempts to draw a lot of contact in the paint (especially on putback opportunities) could wind up getting Jesse some quick whistles.

Zeke: Buddy Buckets back to form

In Tuesday night’s game against the Villanova Wildcats, Buddy Boeheim played arguably his worst game of the season. He shot 3-15 from the field and 1-3 from beyond the arc finishing with only six points and one assist. He looked out of sorts and was not the usual shooting threat the ACC and NCAA knows him as. However, all fans of the Orange know that Tuesday’s performance was an anomaly and Boeheim will return to form as the season progresses. However, I think fans won’t have to wait too long as Saturday’s match-up against the Hoyas could be exactly what he needs to find his rhythm again. The Hoyas have been inconsistent early into this season, which leaves an opportunity for him and the Orange to get back in the win column and ensure that Buddy Buckets is back and as good as ever.

Kevin: Sharing the rock

Syracuse ended up with four assists against Villanova. Four assists on 20 field goals means that a lot of the offensive possessions were one player dribbling before shooting while the other four players were left standing and watching. A lot was made of poor shooting nights from Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider but Syracuse didn’t move the ball enough to get either player good looks early in the game. The Orange aren’t built to take their defender off the bounce so they need to get back to the driving the ball to collapse the defense and find the open man. Opponents are averaging 15 assists against the Hoyas and if Syracuse can reach that number they should win comfortably.

Szuba: Not Georgetown but I’mma uptown Hoya

That line has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to say. It’s just one bar from Eat You Alive by Lil Wayne that I’ve been wanting to say for no discerning reason.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus in on the three point shooting. Syracuse is exceptional at giving up 3-point shots. Amazing at it, really. In fact, the Orange are best in the country in that regard as opponents are taking over half their shots from deep against Syracuse’s zones. Georgetown is negligible in pretty much every category except shooting the long ball. The Hoyas shoot 39% from range so expect the three to be a big key in this old Big East matchup. By the way, did you know John Thompson once said Manley Field House is officially closed? It’s true and I expect nobody to mention it.

Christian: Win the turnover battle

Opponents aren’t just finding success moving the ball against the Hoyas - they’re also not turning the ball over as much. All of that results in an assist/turnover ratio above one for Georgetown opponents while the Hoyas sit underneath a one in assist/turnover ratio. That should mean that Syracuse’s defense has an opportunity to settle into a game and not worry too much about the ball moving a lot to force rotations. It’s all set up to be a big confidence game for the Orange.