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

Can Red buck the losing trend against Colgate?

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

While on the path to revitalize the program long-term, head coach Adrian Autry and the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (2-0) will look to curb their recent losing streak to the Colgate Raiders (1-0) Tuesday night in the JMA Wireless Dome.

After not losing to Colgate dating back to 1962 (!!!), the Raiders have defeated the Orange in back-to-back years by double-digits. Autry and the Orange will hope to not only remain perfect so far, but also get one last win before traveling down to Hawaii to face off in a very top-heavy Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on the ACC Network with streaming on ESPN+.

Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

Dom: What’s the deal with Benny?

Let’s start with the obvious storyline — junior forward Benny Williams is back with the program after being suspended/sidelined for a “violation of team rules.” He started in 24 games last year and, while he isn’t a perfect player, he fits into Autry’s positionless basketball philosophy and is one of the more experienced wings on this roster. How much action are we seeing from him against Colgate, if any, and what will that role look like?

Kevin: Communication on defense

Colgate isn’t as strong as the last couple of years, but they also enter the Dome knowing they can win and they will be a good challenge for the Orange man-to-man defense. Syracuse has to communicate their switches well because Colgate is going to make them work to defend for long stretches. If Syracuse can play their assignments, they have the athletes to take advantage in transition and force Colgate to play faster than they’d like. If they don’t talk, the Raiders will work the ball through Keegan Records to get good looks from deep.

Szuba: Defending the three

We know the story in the previous two meetings. Colgate has connected on 37 made threes in the last two meetings with Syracuse. One would think the transition from 2-3 zone to man-to-man would have some inherent synergy vis-à-vis defending the three. One would also think the absence of Tucker Richardson would help Syracuse’s cause. But Ryan Moffatt and Nicholas Louis-Jacques won’t be absent. Chandler Baker can shoot it, too. Syracuse hasn’t been sharp defensively for a full half. Can it lock in and limit the Raiders from the perimeter in this increasingly important matchup?

Mike: How will Red stack his deck?

OK, so we all agree that defense is the biggest concern tonight. I’m looking at it from a different angle: it’ll all come down to matchups. Autry can flip between man and zone as needed, but it’s about finding the best combinations in both to set up favorable matchups against the Raiders. After the tip, don’t be surprised if Naheem McLeod makes an early exit in favor of Maliq Brown, who plays much better in the fast break and can be gritty on both ends of the court. Rebound leaders Quadir Copeland (17) and Justin Taylor (13) also need to make sure Colgate’s high-percentage shooters don’t get many second chances.

Now it’s your turn: what will you be watching for during tonight’s quest for vengeance against Colgate?