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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for versus #15 Florida State

Another day, another tough test for the Orange.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Stony Brook at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a eventful week of hoops, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (14-2, 4-1) is back on the road home again for arguably its toughest matchup of the season against the #15 Florida State Seminoles (14-4, 5-1).

The Orange are heading down south to face its second AP top 15 of the year and third ranked opponent of the year in search of another Q1 win. Syracuse will look to keep some momentum going, entering Thursday evening’s game on a three-game winning streak and coming off the largest comeback win in the Felisha Legette-Jack era against Clemson.

Florida State enters this game scorching hot with back-to-back wins over #23 North Carolina and #14 Virginia Tech, and the team’s last loss was in overtime to #4 NC State on January 4. Last season, the Seminoles 23-10 overall (12-6 in the ACC) and lost in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Tip-off between Syracuse and FSU is at 7 p.m. EST in Tallahassee. The game will be available for stream on ACC Network+.

Here’s what to watch for:

Who’s controlling the glass?

Florida State is going to enter this game as one of the best teams on paper in the ACC, and rightfully so. FSU boasts the second-best scoring offense in the conference and the bulk of that comes from their outside shooting — the Seminoles are first in three-point attempts and fourth in three-point percentage in the ACC.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC/SEC Challenge-Alabama at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

If the Orange can win on the road, it will be from following a similar formula to how they beat Notre Dame — crashing the glass and limiting extra possessions, particularly in the fourth quarter. It doesn’t take much for FSU to catch fire, and Syracuse cannot afford to be handing free points in this type of game.

Fighting fire with fire

Florida State’s offense is not only incredibly potent, but there’s certainly multiple players who can step up and torch the opposing defense. Ta’Niya Latson (20.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game) is tough for any of the Orange’s main perimeter defenders to guard, and the trio of O’Mariah Gordon, Makayla Timpson and Sara Bejedi are all scoring more than 13 points a game.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Florida State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse’s offense is going to be key in this game. We know Dyaisha Fair has shined multiple times particularly in the fourth quarter, and the starters collectively have been big in the past two weeks to generate a lot of the offense. But after a recent stretch that saw the scoring fall off a bit, the Orange are going to have to play like a top-25 offense in the country to have a chance in this one.

Sparks off the bench

Who’s going to step up to give the Orange some valuable minutes from the reserves? Kennedi Perkins has recently produced at a solid level as the main backup point guard, Saniaa Wilson has shown sparks particularly on offense and Sophie Burrows has started to find some confidence and more consistent playing time.

The starters came through big-time against Notre Dame, and they’ll likely have to come through again. But they can’t play the entire game, and against a team as talented as FSU, someone is going to have to step up to keep Syracuse afloat.

Syracuse versus #15 Florida State preview by the numbers

All-time: Syracuse is 5-6 all-time versus Florida State dating back to the 2013-2014 season, but the Orange are just 1-4 on the road. Syracuse last defeated FSU on the road during the 2018-2019 season.

Last matchup: Last year, the Orange 78-65 on the road in the team’s lone game last year versus the Seminoles.

Win/loss implications: A win gives Syracuse its third Q1 win (and second over an AP top 25 opponent), but a loss would end the Orange’s active three-game losing streak.

Prediction: Syracuse has shown to be a resilient team that can eek out a win even on an off-day, but I think this is a game where Syracuse’s scoring might actually lag behind its opponent. Florida State has a lot of options on offense, and although it doesn’t boast the same defense as UNC did, a road game versus an AP top 15 team is always a steep hill to climb. I’ve got Syracuse falling just short and losing 79-68.

Syracuse vs. #15 Florida State Team Stats

Statistical Categories Syracuse Florida State
Statistical Categories Syracuse Florida State
PPG 78.8 83.9
Opponent PPG 63.2 69.9
Margin of Victory plus-15.6 plus-13.9
FG% 44% 43%
Defensive FG% 39% 38%
3FG% 32% 35%
Defensive 3FG% 31% 38%
FT% 72% 77%
RPG 44.1 43.1
APG 13.7 14
T/O 15.4 11.3
A/T ratio 0.9 1.2
SPG 9.9 7.8
BPG 4.8 4.9