After back-to-back overtime games in Brooklyn, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is hoping to get back in its groove. The Orange (3-2) face Bryant (4-1) in a late-afternoon tip-off at the JMA Wireless Dome.
It may not seem like it, but this is a pretty important early-season game for Syracuse. After its matchup against Bryant, the team will be on the road in back-to-back games against Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Notre Dame in the Orange’s first matchup against an ACC opponent.
With all of that in mind, here are our predictions against Bryant:
Syracuse 85, Bryant 71
Bryant has been scoring points at will this season as the nation’s leader in points per game (99.8), but in its only game vs. a top-100 defense the Bulldogs were held in the 70s. I suspect the same here as Syracuse returns home and looks to build on a hard-fought week in Brooklyn. This is the kind of game where Joe Girard and Jesse Edwards hold down the offense and Judah Mintz continues to shine. The forwards should also continue to grow as Syracuse gets a little bit of a tune-up before hitting the road for Illinois.
Syracuse 87, Bryant 75
Bryant forces the 18th-most turnovers and the 15th-most steals in the NCAA, but the Bulldogs’ defensive pressure should be taken with a huge grain of salt given its easy schedule to begin the year. If the Orange can take care of the ball, it’s hard to see Bryant’s defense hold up against a scorching-hot Syracuse offense that typically can put up points against non-conference opponents. Entering its matchup, Bryant sits at 252nd in adjusted defensive efficiency, compared to Syracuse ranking 42nd in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom. Expect a bounceback game from Joe Girard, and potentially a big performance from Jesse Edwards after a quiet showing in the Empire Classic.
Syracuse 78, Bryant 77
The Bulldogs haven’t played a tough schedule, but they have the pieces to give the Syracuse zone fits. Earl Timberlake is a player suited for the high post and Bryant can surround him with perimeter scorers. Charles Pride would love to come home and leave his final Dome appearance with a win. Syracuse needs to establish the inside game early and often in this one. They cannot get caught up in trying to go shot for shot with Bryant. Feed Jesse Edwards and good things will happen. Orange survive when Doug Edert’s last-second 3 rims out.
Bryant 81, Syracuse 77
Man aren’t I just a total pessimist? As Kevin touched on, Syracuse needs to take what is given to them and not force shots that aren’t there. But these are still freshmen prone to a few freshmen mistakes. This should be tight until the end, with a slim SU lead disappearing after a few rushed plays followed by fast counters from Bryant (a la UMiami last March). Something tells me that Pride has one of his best performances to pull off the upset and boost the Bulldogs’ Tournament stock early.
Bryant 85, Syracuse 75
Don’t worry Mike, you’re not the only pessimist here.
Talk about Bryant’s light scheduled so far all you’d like, but you still have to hit three-pointers. We’ve already seen that even below-average perimeter teams can consistency shoot over the Syracuse zone. Bryant is an above-average team at shooting the three, and it’s hard to say that people are impressed by the Orange perimeter defense this season. I see this game turning out a lot like the Colgate game - Bryant gets a couple early threes to fall, which ramps up desperation mode for the Syracuse offense. That means too many hero plays and not enough reliance on a size advantage with Jesse Edwards to claw back the deficit.
Now it’s your turn:
Who wins the game between Syracuse and Bryant?
This poll is closed
Bryant wins and the takes will be spicier than this weekend’s turkey chili
Syracuse wins and there’s hope the Orange can get a win streak going