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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for versus #19 Virginia Tech

Another day, another tough ranked matchup.

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

Coming off a historic win in South Bend, the #22 Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (17-2, 7-1) returns back to the JMA Wireless Dome on Sunday afternoon for a matchup with the #19 Virginia Tech Hokies (15-4, 6-2).

Syracuse returns to the 315 with one of its most shocking wins in recent program history — a 79-65 road dub against the #15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Orange’s first ever win against ND on the road. Currently sitting on a six-game winning streak, the Orange are looking to stay hot in their second straight game versus an AP top 25 ACC team.

Virginia Tech is coming off back-to-back double-digit wins over Clemson and Georgia Tech and, just like Syracuse, sit as a projected five-seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology update. The Hokies last season finished 31-5 overall (14-4 against the ACC), won the ACC Tournament and advanced all the way to the Final Four in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Tip-off between the Orange and Hokies is at 12 pm EST in the Dome. The game will also be streamed on the ACC Network.

Syracuse remains undefeated (11-0) in the Dome so far this season, but can the streak stay alive in another battle of AP top 25 opponents?

Here’s what to watch for:

  1. Syracuse’s forwards versus Elizabeth Kitley: Alyssa Latham and Kyra Wood have notably shined with their shot-blocking and rebounding (particularly on the offensive glass). Yet, they’re arguably facing their toughest single-player match all season. Elizabeth Kitley is a reigning two-time ACC Player of the Year, and the six-foot-six graduate center is a constant force on both ends of the court (22.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game this year). Can Latham, Wood and the rest of Syracuse’s forward depth avoid foul trouble and get enough stops versus one of the most productive players in the ACC?
  2. Attacking the inside: Syracuse has gotten better over the course of this win streak at attacking the rim both on drives in the half-court and snagging some extra offensive rebounds, but the Orange’s offense at times can be prone to taking a lot of perimeter shots. Virginia Tech is shooting the best percentage (37%) from three in the ACC, but the Hokies are also holding opponents to the second-lowest three-point percentage (28%). The three-pointer might not be as effective of a weapon on offense this time around.
  3. All eyes on the Orange: This is a game that will definitely have a lot of stakes. Yet again, the Orange will play in the only game this weekend with two AP top 25 teams and the Notre Dame win has elevated this team into the national spotlight. More fans are (finally) starting to turn out for the home games, and Syracuse’s 11-0 home streak this year includes some of the most notable comeback wins in program history. Let’s see how the Orange can take advantage of that momentum heading into this game.

Syracuse versus #19 Virginia Tech preview by the numbers

All-time: Syracuse is 8-9 all-time versus Virginia Tech dating back to the 1988-1989 season, but the Orange are 6-5 versus the Hokies since joining the ACC and 5-4 all-time in the Dome. Virginia Tech has won the last three matchups.

Last matchup: The Orange lost 78-64 on the road in the program’s lone matchup versus the Hokies last season.

Win/loss implications: A win extends Syracuse’s win streak to seven games, hands the program its fourth win over an AP top 25 opponent and pushes the Orange to a 12-0 record at home. A loss would snap a six-game win streak and move the Orange to a 3-3 record against Q1 opponents.

#22 Syracuse vs. #19 Virginia Tech Team Stats

Statistical Categories Syracuse Virginia Tech
Statistical Categories Syracuse Virginia Tech
PPG 78.4 78.4
Opponent PPG 63.6 59.7
Margin of Victory plus-14.8 plus-18.7
FG% 44% 47%
Defensive FG% 39% 37%
3FG% 33% 37%
Defensive 3FG% 30% 28%
FT% 74% 77%
RPG 43.8 40
APG 13.6 17.5
T/O 15 12.2
A/T ratio 0.9 0.7
SPG 9.8 3.9
BPG 5 5.9