Syracuse hopes to land a major road win after against Notre Dame on Saturday night. Miami enters the game off an overtime loss at NC State on Saturday afternoon. How will each team respond to the short turnaround? Can Syracuse avoid the collapses they suffered against the Canes last year?
Here’s what to watch for in the game between Syracuse and Miami:
Kevin: Keep the Hurricanes out of the lane
In the two games last season, Miami attempted 42 free throws because their guards were able to get into the lane and collapse the Orange defense. They attack off the dribble from multiple positions and Syracuse should actually dare them to make more outside shots rather than extending the zone and giving up lay-ups. Jesse Edwards and Mounir Hima have been covering a lot of holes with this defense and unless the other players work harder to stop the ball both centers could be in deep foul trouble.
Dom: Avoiding foul trouble (especially for Edwards...)
I second Kevin’s point here given Miami’s current personnel. Isaiah Wong (17.2 PPG and 4.0 APG), Jordan Miller (14.9 PPG), and Nijel Pack (11.4 PPG) from the Hurricanes are all drive-happy guards who play inside-out. The guard trio primarily attacks the basket relentlessly, opening up looks for the rest of Miami’s rotation who can put up points but not necessarily create their own shots. Miami ranks first in field goal percentage in the ACC, but towards the middle of the pack in both three-point volume and efficiency. Keeping the Hurricanes away from the paint will keep Syracuse’s most valuable contributors (*cough* Jesse Edwards) on the court as much as possible.
Mike: Finish the game
Both times these two teams faced off in 2022, Syracuse had a double-digit lead going into halftime, but managed to lose it and the game. Thankfully, the issue of a fatigued starting lineup losing late leads isn’t nearly as big of a concern now. The Orange bench, which scored a combined four points in two contests against the Hurricanes last season, is coming off showings of 22 and 26 points in the last two games. Maliq Brown, Justin Taylor and starter Chris Bell are all showing significant growth - and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Christian: Active hands
One of the big reasons why Miami lost its most recent game against NC State was due to turnovers. The Hurricanes are usually okay at taking care of the ball but coughed it up 17 times against the Wolfpack. NC State, on the other hand, only turned the ball over four times. Syracuse has had plenty of games this season where it has taken advantage of opponent carelessness. Miami is going to want to bully the Orange out of the game and if Syracuse can take that aggressiveness and turn it against the Hurricanes, the Orange have a chance.
Szuba: Three point defense
Notre Dame nearly crushed the Orange from outside on Saturday, but Miami is just about average shooting from the three at 33.9 % and only takes about a third of its shots from outside. The Hurricanes boast one of the better offensive teams in the country, so can the 2-3 zone force Miami into shooting more threes than it wants or will it surrender open looks to Jim Larranaga’s skilled backcourt? If Syracuse is to win it’ll have to slow the Hurricanes perimeter attack.
What will you be watching for in tonight’s game?