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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs Florida State

The ‘Noles seek revenge; the Orange seek repetition.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Florida State vs Syracuse Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (14-10, 7-6) continues its brief ACC road trip, heading from Boston down south to take on the Florida State Seminoles (8-16, 6-7) in Tallahassee.

The Orange are coming off a nine-point win against Boston College, hoping to improve to above-.500 in road games (4-4 so far this season). On the other side, FSU is 7-7 in its last 14 games (6-7 in ACC play) after beginning the year 1-9.

Tonight’s the first time these programs meet since the Orange decimated the Seminoles 96-57 in the 2022 ACC Tournament.

Here’s what to watch for between ‘Cuse and the ‘Noles.

Dom: Go, go, go?

The Seminoles rank last in opponent points per game (75.3 PPG allowed, 0.6 points more than 3-20 Louisville), mainly because Florida State turns the ball over at the second-highest rate in the ACC. Despite Syracuse churning out the fifth-best scoring offense in the conference, it usually doesn’t come through transition opportunities. We’ve repeated the point before about wanting the Orange to get out and run more. If Syracuse really wants to get things done on the road, it should look to do that.

Kevin: Guard the paint

Florida State features a balanced attack on offense so the Syracuse zone has to be aware of the Seminoles shooters. Matthew Cleveland, Darin Green, and Caleb Mills are all capable shooters and communication on rotations will be crucial. If the Orange can keep Florida State from attacking the middle of the zone, they should be able to force tougher perimeter shots from a team that doesn’t really attack the offensive glass.

Mike: Use size on both sides

The Seminoles have run with a three-guard lineup for the majority of the season, making the ideal Syracuse gameplan two-fold. First, the defense needs to force FSU inside where the height matchups favor SU. Don’t leave Green and Cleveland room to shoot from the perimeter or they will score plenty. Then on the other side of the court, feed Jesse Edwards and let him run the offense. Naheed McLeod only plays about 15 minutes a night for FSU so the Dutchman should have room to work during the rest.

Christian: Don’t get suckered in

The scouting report probably tells the Orange to make sure there’s a body on Green at all times, especially on the perimeter. Green has taken 177 threes this season, 101 more than the next closest Seminoles, which is Caleb Mills. So while logic dictates that Syracuse should only have to focus on covering Green from distance, teams have realized this season that it’s really easy to get open and fire away from behind the arc. Because of that, you can bet that

Cleveland and Mills will increase their threes frequency for this game. Syracuse can’t tunnel in on swarming Green on the perimeter.

Szuba: Girard on track

Joe Girard got back into double-figure scoring against Boston College after previously posting back-to-back seven point games. Can he make it two double-digit scoring games in a row to get back on track? Girard commands much of the attention and often has to score against the opposing team’s best defender. No doubt that will be a challenge against Florida State’s height and length. The results are telling of how important he is to Syracuse’s success: the Orange is 1-5 when he doesn’t score ten or more.

That’s what we’re watching for, now it’s your turn to tell us what you’ll be watching for against the Seminoles.