The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (10-5, 3-1) continues its quick ACC road trip in an important matchup against the #11 Virginia Cavaliers (10-3, 2-2). Syracuse hopes to keep the ACC upset trend going after #12 Miami and #16 Duke both saw losses to lower-ranked opponents Wednesday night.
Tip-off between the Orange and Cavaliers is scheduled for 5 pm EST, with the game available to watch on ESPN’s ACC Network.
Here are our predictions:
Virginia 77, Syracuse 66
Compared to earlier this season, the Orange are better prepared to take on a team like the Cavaliers. However, I have concerns that Syracuse will struggle to generate enough points against a Virginia team with a lengthy history of playing smart, efficiently, and tough from start to finish. Syracuse’s forward rotation will need to make open shots and crash the glass, something that hasn’t been a guarantee on a night-to-night basis but is a must-have against a versatile Virginia squad. ‘Cuse has a solid chance to pull off the upset on the road, but as always, it will be a grind-it-out contest between both programs.
Virginia 77, Syracuse 72
SU was absolutely annihilated the first time they played a ranked team this season - but this group of players has grown considerably since then. As challenging as it can be to watch at times, the Orange have won seven of eight since that debacle at Illinois. This is a chance for them to pull out some of that vintage ‘Cuse grit against a superior opponent. I don’t think they win, but at least keeping it close to the end would be an encouraging sign.
Virginia 64, Syracuse 62
Can the Orange stay focused for a full 40 minutes? They can’t afford long lapses against this veteran Virginia team. Syracuse has shot well from 3 in the last two games and if they want to get the upset, it will likely need to be above 40% from deep again. This isn’t a terrible match-up for the Orange but I still need to be convinced that this team is ready to knock off a better team on the road.
Virginia 68, Syracuse 58
It might not seem like it, but this Virginia team can actually shoot the ball at a respectable rate. That’s not what you want to hear, as you know Tony Bennett’s teams are always stout defensively. As usual, Virginia is all set up to attack Syracuse’s weakest points. The Cavaliers have the best assist/turnover ratio in the ACC. Ball movement to find Kihei Clark in the high post, taking care of the ball, and forcing turnovers is the name of Virginia’s game plan against Syracuse for the past few seasons. It’s worked to tremendous success and Syracuse doesn’t have enough individual talent to overcome Virginia’s slightly improved offense.
Virginia 71, Syracuse 57
This will be a tough matchup for Syracuse that will be played at a slow, methodic pace on both ends of the floor. Where Virginia gets credit for its defense, the offense is often overlooked because they play at such a slow pace. But I don’t think the Cavaliers will have much trouble dissecting this zone for open looks and playing selfless ball. While scoring against Virginia is a tough row to hoe to be sure, Syracuse will lose this game on the defensive end.
Who wins the game between Syracuse and Virginia?
This poll is closed
Virginia wins and the Orange magic really is running out
Syracuse wins and Malachi Richardson is eternal