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

Round 2 between the Orange and Fighting Irish.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (11-6, 4-2) returns to the Dome for a Saturday night rematch against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-8, 1-5).

Syracuse hopes to win its second straight game coming off a 10-point victory against Virginia Tech. On the other hand, Notre Dame looks to get some revenge on the road after falling 62-61 at home in its previous matchup versus the Orange. The Fighting Irish are coming off a one-point win over Georgia Tech, but they lost the prior three ACC games by an average of almost 12 points.

Here’s what to watch for in the game between Syracuse and Notre Dame:

Dom: Limit the Fighting Irish’s perimeter threat

Notre Dame ranks towards the bottom of the ACC in points per game (11th), but it mainly thrives off of hot shooting from three (third-highest percentage and fourth-most attempts in the conference). The Orange were helped out defensively against Virginia Tech because the Hokies couldn’t hit an outside shot to save its life. The Fighting Irish are a different story. If Notre Dame gets hot from three, we could see a high-scoring game from two teams who give up a lot of open looks.

Kevin: Own the Glass

In the first meeting, Notre Dame won the rebounding battle 33-27 with 10 of those offensive rebounds. Those typically lead to open 3s and that’s the only way Notre Dame is going to stay in this game. Jesse Edwards had 16 of the Orange’s rebounds then, but since Maliq Brown has given the Orange a big boost on the boards, I’d look for him to continue to earn a lot of playing time tomorrow.

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

Mike: Rinse and repeat

Notre Dame is scuffling right now, having lost six of eight and just barely pulling out its first conference win last time out. Syracuse did a good job handling another limping team in VT, so they should be focused on using the same strategy here. Don’t give the Irish a chance to break out of their funk by continuing to play the hot hand - in this case, Maliq Brown and Justin Taylor.

Christian: It’s okay to do it this time

In a normal Syracuse 2-3 zone defense, the last thing you want to do is leave the center on an island defending the paint by himself. Against this Notre Dame team, you don’t have to do that because no one wanted to get into the high post to threaten much inside. Because of that, the outside defenders of Syracuse’s zone defense could stay on the perimeter and guard Notre Dame’s three-point threats. Assuming the Irish haven’t learned, the Orange can get away with that same strategy as an Irish high post player would actually help unlock Notre Dame’s range. Until that happens, everyone not named Jesse Edwards can focus on keeping the ball outside the arc.

Szuba: Points in the paint

Syracuse was able to beat Notre Dame this first time around thanks to its advantage inside with Jesse Edwards. He finished with a season-high 22 points and 16 rebounds. Will Syracuse go back to that matchup inside and with the emergence of Maliq Brown, do the Orange find a way to make this game physical down low against a perimeter oriented Irish squad?


That’s what we’re watching for. Now, you tell us what you’ll be looking for in Saturday night’s rematch against the Fighting Irish.