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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for in the ACC Tournament vs Wake Forest

Can the Orange make it two in a row?

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (17-14, 10-10) opens up ACC Tournament play against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (18-13, 10-10) on Wednesday afternoon.

Syracuse just took care of Wake by a 72-63 margin on Senior Day in the Dome. Will we see a repeat performance tomorrow?

Here’s what we’re watching for in the 8/9 game:

Kevin: Stick with the Plan

Jesse Edwards isn’t going to go for 27 and 20 again, but the Orange need to establish him early and often. Syracuse didn’t shoot well on Saturday, but assuming Wake attacks Jesse with more double-teams, the Orange need to have an alternative ready. Quick passing should lead to more open shots and a better all-around offensive performance. I think Syracuse will need it since it’s unlikely Wake will shoot as poorly in this one.

Dominic: All hope is in the Starters

Against Wake Forest on Saturday, the trio of Edwards (40 minutes), Judah Mintz (39 minutes), and Joe Girard (39 minutes) combined for 60 of the Orange’s 72 points. Given the lack of offense upside from Syracuse’s bench, the team will need to rely on its big three to generate some quality offense. Outside of Maliq Brown’s 8 points on Saturday, the Orange didn’t see any production from Quadir Copeland (0/2 in 12 minutes), Chris Bell (1/7 in 28 minutes), Benny Williams (0/2 in 8 minutes), or the reserves. Can the math here work out in SU’s favor a second-straight time?

Mike: Pass the torch

Over the last nine games, the Orange have not had the same leading scorer in back-to-back contests. It’s been a mix of Mintz (4), Edwards (2), Girard (2), and Benny Williams (1), all of whom put up at least 20 points while leading the offense. Playing the same opponent twice in a row is added reason for that pattern to continue - but who will take command this time? One of the regular contributors, or a boom-or-bust guy like Chris Bell or Justin Taylor?

Christian: Over the top

Wake Forest is probably going to shoot better than the 25.6% it shot from three on Saturday. So assuming the Demon Deacons don’t miss as many open chances as they did, what other forms of offense do Syracuse have to stop? The big one is yet another problem of the zone that Syracuse has historically had trouble stopping - the lob over the top. Edwards has to stay back more to prevent those, especially since Wake didn’t showcase much of an ability to score from the typical high-post position in the middle of the zone. If Syracuse can close off that avenue, the Orange might be able to compensate for the Demon Deacons making more triples.

Szuba: Tell Syracuse it’s March

The calendar has turned to the month of March and Syracuse played accordingly last Saturday. The Orange always seem to become increasingly interested in playing its best basketball this time of year and the team will need that kind of inspired play if it wants to make some noise in Greensboro. Will this team revert to its late February stretch or will we see the impassioned Orange building toward its March crescendo starting on Wednesday?

What are you looking for in tomorrow’s game?