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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs Miami

Only one Jim in the gym on Saturday

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange (12-5, 3-3) return home tomorrow to take on the Miami Hurricanes (12-5, 3-3) at the JMA Wireless Dome. The Hurricanes are having some trouble as of late so we’ll see if the Orange can take advantage.

Here’s what we’re watching for tomorrow:

Kevin: Defending the perimeter

After holding Pitt to a 5-26 shooting night, the Orange have to face the 2nd-best three-point shooting team in the ACC. Miami has four rotation players shooting over 40% beyond the arc: Wooga Poplar (49%), Matthew Cleveland (45.5%), Nigel Pack (44%) and Kyshawn George (42%). Syracuse should be able to score on the Canes, but they don’t want to let Miami get lots of good looks from deep.

Mike: Careful shot selection

Last Saturday, SU fell deep in the hole against UNC in large part because not only did they shoot poorly on the day (36.5% from the field), but the Orange only picked up seven of 41 possible second chances. The Canes are the second-best defensive rebounding team in the ACC behind the Tar Heels and despite their recent struggles, SU is lacking some of their size which would have been a big help under the basket.

Max: Limiting second chances

Miami’s offensive rebounding doesn’t exactly jump out, but what does is its shooting percentage (56.7% effective, 11th in NCAA). SU’s rebounding has been inconsistent to this point, and there’s even bigger question marks now with Naheem McLeod done for the year. It’s going to take more than Maliq Brown and Justin Taylor to secure the glass and shut down the Hurricanes’ potent offense.

Dom: Scoring success on the perimeter

Miami doesn’t have as great defensive personnel as it did last year, but as Kevin and Max noted, this is is an electric offense group that can and will get hot at any moment. Syracuse still remains tied for the third-worst three-point percentage in the ACC, but the Orange notably beat Pitt by double-digits on the road thanks to a 10/17 performance from downtown. Yet again, it will be on the perimeter cast of Chris Bell, Justin Taylor, Kyle Cuffe Jr., and the rest of the guard rotation to take advantage of those outside looks.

Szuba: Health of the Hurricanes & center matchup

Three Miami players have been dealing with sprained ankles of late: Wooga Poplar, Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier. The guard matchup is intriguing and Matt Cleveland will be looking to bounce back after a poor outing against his former team Wednesday. But I’m looking to the center matchup. Is this a game where not having McLeod hampers the Orange or can Maliq Brown hold serve down there against the burly Omier? If not, Syracuse might not have the physicality down low to match.

Finn: Limit opportunities from 3

I’m going to have to double down and agree with Kevin here. Miami boasts an elite shooting team that is eighth in the nation in three-point percentage (39.6%). The ‘Canes are also certainly not afraid to let it fly as they rank as one of the highest in the nation for three-point attempts as well. At least two and sometimes three of Poplar, Pack, Cleveland, and George will be on the court at all times. The Syracuse wings, such as Bell, Taylor, and Copeland, will have to be locked in on the defensive side.

*****************************************************************************************************What are you watching for in tomorrow’s game?