The Syracuse Orange (10-11, 4-6) men’s basketball team looks to get back to .500 when they travel to Raleigh the NC State Wolfpack (10-12, 3-8) on Wednesday night. The Orange looked dominant in the second half on Saturday night, will that carry over to this one? Here’s what we’ll be looking for when these teams meet:
Kevin: Effort on the boards
NC State is leading the ACC in offensive rebounds in conference games with 12.4 per game. The Wolfpack are putting up a lot of shots and then attacking the glass. Syracuse has been better on the boards recently but as the zone extends to take away NC State’s perimeter players, it’s going to be important that the Orange defenders don’t get caught standing and watching when shots go up. If NC State gets extra possessions it’s going to stress the Syracuse defense.
Zeke: Cole Swider being the X factor
While all eyes will be on Buddy Boeheim, who was the ACC player of the week, Cole Swider is the player to look out for tonight. Swider is coming off his most effective performance of the season shooting 8-11 overall and 2-2 from distance scoring 18 points while grabbing 4 rebounds. Coach Boeheim said Saturday’s win against Wake Forest was Swider’s best performance of the season so far and ‘expects him’ to play even better down the stretch. Expect Swider to ride this wave of momentum into tonight’s game where he should play a prominent role in the Orange’s performance.
Christian: Back to this again, huh?
As experienced Syracuse basketball fans, most of you are probably sick of broadcasters telling you that getting the ball to the middle of the zone is how to beat Jim Boeheim’s famous defense. In recent games, NC State has placed Jericole Hellems to be that zone-buster, but this season he has help. Terquavion Smith averages very similar stats to Hellems in all categories, and neither is NC State’s primary scorer with Dereon Seabron having a breakout year. Having Hellems and Smith as neither of the primary scorers makes defending either one of them in the middle of the zone difficult for Jesse Edwards in the one-on-one at the free throw line and for the the wing defenders in deciding whether to help Edwards or stick to a wing shooter.
Szuba: Seabron, see man
The Syracuse defense stepped up in the second half of Saturday’s game against Wake Forest. Can that bleed into tonight’s matchup against NC State? See ball and see man is an old man-to-man defense coaching mantra used to instruct weak side help and has way less to do with 2-3 zone, but I had to use the name Seabron in a banal, non-witty style somehow. Whatever.
The zone will have to see ball and Seabron at all times because that dude is a bucket. He got going after Devon Daniels tore his ACL last season and now looks to challenge Jesse Edwards for the league’s most improved player. Seabron leads his team in scoring (18.2 points per game), rebounding (9.0) and assists (3.4). Hellems might operate the high-post some, but Seabron will have to be located at all times otherwise this game could be played in the 90s.