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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs. Colgate

After a bitter loss last season, the Orange are looking to bounce back against the Raiders.

NCAA Basketball: Lehigh at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The smell of revenge is in the air for Syracuse Orange men’s basketball.

After soundly defeating the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in the season-opener, the Orange will take on the Colgate Raiders in the Dome tonight at 7.

The Orange are looking for a return to glory against the Raiders after Colgate upset Syracuse last season 100-85. In last year’s matchup, Colgate shot a ridiculous 18/43 from downtown.

NCAA Basketball: Lehigh at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

2-1 Colgate enters its matchup with ‘Cuse coming off a 93-60 victory against Division III Wells College. In 2021-2022, they finished 23-12 on the season, including 16-2 against the Patriot League. While the Raiders were 15-1 at home last season, the team finished just 8-10 on the road.

With the Orange looking to remain undefeated, here’s what to watch for:

Dom: Is there a fourth scorer somewhere on Syracuse’s roster?

In the game against Lehigh, it was clear the offense revolved mainly around Joe Girard, Jesse Edwards, and Judah Mintz. Combined, the trio scored 53 points, took 27 shots, and finished an efficient 59% from the field. The rest of the team, however, had just 37 points on 28 shots. With the exception of Justin Taylor (1/7 from the field), everyone else shot pretty efficiently against the Mountain Hawks. But no one really jumped out as a go-to scorer who coach Boeheim can put the ball in their hands and make a play.

The guy to watch for is Symir Torrence. As a veteran on the team, he finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in 22 minutes of action. The sample size is small, but expect Torrence to be a reliable card Boeheim can play throughout the season, especially if the likes of Justin Taylor and Chris Bell struggle out of the gate.

Mike: For whom the Bell tolls

After a shaky debut, Chris Bell is already on the hot seat per Jim Boeheim. He was outplayed in minutes by Justin Taylor, who contributed more on the defensive end but shot only 1/7. Symir Torrence outscored both of them combined and was an eye-opener on Opening Night. It would be jumping the gun to just go off those first impressions, but if we see more of the same, then there could be a change in the starting lineup pretty soon. So, will Bell find himself out of a job, or bounce back in a big way and lock it up for the short-term future? If he isn’t ready for the opportunity, someone else will be.

Christian: If you don’t know, now you’ll know

Alright, here we go. Syracuse is running more man-to-man defense than we’ve seen in years in Central New York. Here’s the first test of that new scheme. Luckily for the Orange, Colgate isn’t the same three-point shooting team that it was last season. However, the Raiders still have plenty of offensive talent to stretch the floor. Given Colgate’s first three games, this is going to be a high-scoring affair. Much like last season, this Colgate game will tell everyone what we need to know about the strength (or lack thereof) of the Syracuse defense.

Szuba: Man vs. zone watch

To build off of Christian’s point, while taking a slightly different angle:

Although we won’t try to be the internet amateurs that continue to give credence to the Dunning-Kruger effect—as Jim Boeheim warmly alluded to in the final exhibition press conference—by questioning why Syracuse is playing which defense at various times, I’m simply curious if the starting group will play mostly man-to-man and if the bench will play 2-3 zone like the first game or if that wasn’t a harbinger of future defensive strategy (Perhaps we’re undeterred by Boeheim?). So yeah, what defense does Syracuse prefer in this game and does that mean anything at all? We’ll need more data before drawing any definitive conclusions, but the man vs. zone dynamic remains intriguing.

Kevin: Point guard battle

Syracuse won’t see Colgate’s point guard from last year, Nelly Cummings, until they play Pitt. The Raiders have replaced him with Braeden Smith, a freshman from Seattle who is shooting 13-19 from the field through three games. The 6’ Smith is 10-13 inside the arc while his Orange counterpart Judah Mintz was 6-9 in the opener. Both players have as many assists as turnovers on the season so this game could come down to which young guard can take better care of the ball. This might be a game where Jim Boeheim uses Symir Torrence and Quadir Copeland to keep throwing fresh defenders and ramp up the pressure on Smith while he’s on the court.

What will you be watching for in tonight’s game?