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

Besides the FSU-Georgetown connection

Florida State v Miami Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange (13-5, 4-3) are back in action tonight as they look to make it three straight wins when they host the Florida State Seminoles (11-7, 5-2) at the JMA Wireless Dome.

The Seminoles have turned things around in ACC play and here’s what we’re watching for tonight:

Kevin: Pack it in

The Seminoles want to get the ball into the paint. During ACC play, they attempt the most two-point shots per game (43.9) and 2nd-fewest three point attempts (17.4). The Orange need to encourage Florida State to take more long-range shots and then get on the defensive glass.

Max: Swiper, no swiping!

Had to toss in the Dora the Explorer reference because it makes too much sense here. Syracuse ranks first in the ACC in steals per game (9.17), but Florida State isn’t far behind in second with 9.11. Both teams also take care of the ball on offense, so something’s gotta give on Tuesday night. Watch out for the Seminoles’ Jamir Watkins and Darin Green Jr., who are both top-15 in swipes in the conference alongside Maliq Brown and Judah Mintz for the Orange.

Mike: Limit second chances

Max beat me to the most glaring stat, but there’s another category where SU and FSU are the top two in the ACC: rebounds allowed. While neither wants that dubious honor, it hasn’t prevented the ‘Noles (37.0 per game) or the Orange (38.7) from being ultra conservative on the glass this season. There will be some hot potato with the ball but eventually someone has to take the risk and lunge for missed shots - the question is who.

Finn: Florida State Foul Trouble

FSU has really struggled this year in fouls. The team is just outside of the top 25 in the nation for most fouls per game (19.8). Although Syracuse doesn’t shoot many free throws, the likes of Copeland, Brown, and particularly Judah Mintz (ninth in the nation in free throws made), could help put FSU under foul pressure. With the atmosphere and pace typically used by ‘Cuse in the Dome, we could see the ‘Noles foul often in an attempt to cope. FSU has already fallen into this trap in big away tests such as UNC (19 fouls) and Florida (26 fouls). Will we see these same antics in the dome?

Dom: Continued support on offense

While I would argue the Orange settled a bit too much with shots on the perimeter, Syracuse’s offense truly looked pretty good against Miami. Five different players scored in double-figures, Starling played arguably his best game of the season and Mintz dished out a career-high 13 assists. Mintz only shot 3/11 from the field, but it is always a great feeling when the offense can still score 70 or more even when the superstar guard has an off night. FSU forks over the third-most points in the ACC, so another repeat performance on offense is very possible.

Szuba: Three up, three down?

We’ve seen Syracuse shoot the ball better of late, combining to shoot 22-49 (44.9%) from beyond the arc in two games last week. (Still can’t believe Syracuse took 32 threes against Miami). That’s led to two important victories. Can the Orange keep the hot shooting going against Florida State? Of the 12 players in the Seminole rotation, Leonard Hamilton plays 11 guys who are 6-foot-5 or taller. Syracuse can put pressure on the defense and draw fouls, but it might also be tough around the rim tonight. Making outside shots could be a key to victory.

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What are you watching for in tonight’s game?