Whether you’ve been a #disloyalidiot to this point or not, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team takes the floor in the Sweet 16 with at least some chance to advance against the Houston Cougars. SU shouldn’t be here, but that’s fine. This year, we’re far from the only double-digit seed crashing the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
We’re still more than 24 hours out from the Saturday night tip off at 9:55 p.m. ET (on TBS). But it’s worth starting the hype train a little early with some predictions about what might happen when Syracuse and Houston face off.
Houston 67, Syracuse 65
I’ve gone back and forth on this one a lot and I wouldn’t be surprised if Syracuse won. The way the Orange have been shooting the ball makes them a threat against anyone but I’m concerned about the first ten minutes. This one could turn into a fun duel between Buddy Boeheim and Quentin Grimes but if Syracuse doesn’t get ahead and force Houston to play faster I think the Cougars are able to do enough on the offensive glass to sneak out with this game.
Syracuse 65, Houston 63
This winds up another very close call, but the difference is ultimately dictated by Dejon Jarreau not being able to go at full speed for the Cougars. That derails a bit of the offensive efficiency UH has enjoyed to-date, and combined with a resurgent zone in the first half and some continued hot shooting, Syracuse manages to do enough to hold them off late. The key, as you might guess in a physical matchup like this, will be foul trouble. Houston fouls a lot, so the Orange need to avoid picking up bad whistles by matching their style of play. If SU can stay within their game and just keep getting to the line, that should go a long way.
Houston 71, Syracuse 70
Looking at Houston’s close games and losses this year tells me one thing: the Buddy Boeheim show needs to appear again. Otherwise Syracuse needs its other three-point threats to show up again. Many of Houston’s close games or losses this year have come when the opponent shoots close to or over 40% from three. The rebounding advantage for the Cougars might be too much for the Orange to overcome if the deep balls don’t fall. Scoring versatility is something that hasn’t defined the Orange as of late, but it might be their best option to advance.
Houston 62, Syracuse 60
Houston likes to play at a slower pace and while the Syracuse offense has been more up-tempo this season, the Orange also force opponents to chew up a lot of time on the shot-clock. This game should be played in the 60s when consider Houston’s defense and perimeter pressure. Jarreau, the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, will give it a go at about 70-75%. He played against Rutgers despite the hip-pointer. I expect the outside shots will be tougher to come by for Syracuse and ultimately the inability to rebound out of the 2-3 zone will be the Orange’s undoing. It was a heck of a run.
Now it’s your turn...
Who wins this Sweet 16 game between Syracuse and Houston?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and IT’S HAPPENING DOT GIF
Houston, and welp, at least we had some fun