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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs Boston College

A battle of the Northeast on New Year’s Eve.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

After a brief holiday hiatus, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (8-5, 1-1) is back in action on New Year’s Eve at the JMA Wireless Dome versus the Boston College Eagles (7-6, 1-1)

Syracuse hopes to bounce back from a recent 84-82 loss to Pittsburgh, while Boston College is also to get back in the ACC win column coming off a 70-65 loss to Virginia Tech. at home.

Here’s what to watch for between Syracuse and Boston College:

Dom: Syracuse’s defense versus BC’s offense

The Orange enter the game giving up the second-most points per game (75.1) in the ACC, while the Eagles have only produced the third-fewest points per game (66.9) in the conference. Boston College isn’t close to elite on offense, currently shooting the worst percentage from three in the ACC (30.9%). However, we’ve seen the Orange’s 2-3 zone defense give up a sizeable number of attempts from three to its opponents this season. BC’s performance from behind the line will determine how well Syracuse holds up against the Eagles.

Kevin: Pushing the tempo

Boston College doesn’t do anything particularly well on the offensive end. They are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the country, so they want to slow the game down and make it a rock fight. Syracuse should look to run off rebounds and turnovers. The Orange should push to get this game into the 70s as it benefits them. You don’t want to let BC take the air out of the ball and force Syracuse into becoming a half-court team. Get out in transition early and force the Eagles to adjust.

Mike: New Year’s Resolution

If there’s one complaint about the Orange in the first half, it’s probably that they haven’t really played a complete 40 minutes of basketball yet. Every game seems to have at least one long scoreless stretch or defensive relapse. I get that not every game will be smooth sailing, but if SU is going to have success in ACC play, they need to showcase some more consistency and not take their foot off the gas. Win here, then promise to carry that performance into the new year.

Christian: Get something going

Enough has been said about BC’s “offense” from the guys before me. What hasn’t been mentioned has been BC’s “defense.” T.J Bickerstaff is BC’s tallest starter at 6-foot-9. Everyone else is 6-foot-7 or lower. While the gameplan for this one should be easy (Feed Jesse Edwards), Syracuse should treat this as an opportunity to get three-point shooters going. I know Jim Boeheim is looking for rebounders, but Syracuse needs another consistent perimeter threat so that someone can take the pressure off of Joe Girard. BC is the worst three-point defending team in the ACC, and this needs to be a momentum game for someone to show off a three-point shot.

Szuba: Digging holes

Syracuse has gotten into the bad habit of starting games flat and finding themselves in a hole early. Can the Orange buck that trend against Boston College? It starts on the defensive end where Syracuse has looked lackluster in the zone and allows open looks. Syracuse knows how to fight from behind, but the Orange can’t put itself in those types of positions to start the game.

That’s what we’re watching for. Now, you tell us what you’ll be looking for in tomorrow’s matchup versus Boston College.