The Syracuse Orange (13-12, 7-7) men’s basketball team has had a week off after that tough loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies. Now with a stretch of two games in three days the Orange will welcome the Boston College Eagles (9-14, 4-9) on Saturday afternoon. Syracuse won the first match-up 73-64 and will be looking for the series sweep. Here’s what we’ll be looking for when these teams meet:
Kevin: Low-stress Saturday
The next two games for the Orange should be wins but playing three games in five nights is going to be a challenge for a team with such a short rotation. Syracuse had control of the first meeting but were unable to build a big enough lead to pull the starters. Getting out to a quick start so that Jim Boeheim can manage minutes is going to be important. Any NCAA hopes (non-auto bid version) that the Orange have require them to beat BC and Georgia Tech at home and earn a Quad 1 win on the road. It would benefit Syracuse to try and head to Notre Dame as rested as possible.
Zeke: Effective Playmaking
If Syracuse is going to win this game, they need to be effective from beyond the arc. Against Virginia Tech last Saturday, the Orange shot a combined 10-27 from distance, a solid 37%. While the shooting last week wasn’t the problem, and it probably won’t be this week either, Syracuse turned the ball over 11 times. Girard and Buddy combined for six total turnovers with Jimmy trailing behind them with two of his own. A way to cut these numbers down is to run the pick and roll with new starting big man Frank Anselem. If Syracuse’s guards can effectively find their big man down deep in the paint instead of making sloppy ill-timed passes like last week, they should find more success passing the ball and creating better looks for their teammates in the process.
Szuba: Man in the middle
Syracuse went with Frank Anselem for extended time in its first full game without Jesse Edwards. Can Anselem repeat his stellar rebound performance from last weekend and be looked upon to score against Boston College? Conversely, Bourama Sidibe played sparingly against Virginia Tech. Can he get more comfortable in there and earn some more minutes as we go down the final stretch of the season? BC should look to attack inside and have James Karnik lurking along the baseline.
Christian: It starts from the top
Guess how many points BC had in the paint back on February 8?
Yeah, its a lot. But that number continues to expose one of Syracuse’s biggest weaknesses from the past few years - the guards denying the ball from getting inside the arc. Long gone are the days of Tyus Battle and Frank Howard at the top of the zone and Syracuse hasn’t been the same defensively since. BC isn’t a great shooting team, and allowing easy points down low is a free way to hammer the final nail in the coffin of Syracuse’s tournament hopes.