The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team hosts the Holy Cross Crusaders Friday night in a non-conference contest at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (4-1) will be looking to keep their non-conference, home winning streak (54 victories) alive, while the Crusaders (3-0) are unbeaten three games into the season for the first time since 2007.
Syracuse, which was knocked out of the top 25 polls earlier in the week for the first time in nearly five seasons, is coming off a impressive defensive showing in a 70-37 victory over Loyola (Md.) on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Holy Cross is facing its first true road test of the season after defeating the former nationally-ranked Harvard Crimson, 58-57, at a neutral site, and then, Brown (80-65) and Nichols (101-70) at home.
Senior forward Rakeem Christmas has been Syracuse's most consistent offensive threat, as he is pacing the team in points (16..0) and rebounds (9.8) per game. In Tuesday's win over Loyola, Christmas combined for 18 points and nine rebounds.
Frontcourtmate, freshman forward Chris McCullough, is coming off one of his most impressive performance of the season, thus far. The first-year player scored 17 points and snagged nine rebounds in just 29 minutes. He is SU's second-best scoring threat averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
|Syracuse Orange (projected starting lineup)||Class||Ht.||Wt.||PPG||RPG|
|Chris McCullough"]" style="padding: 2px 3px; vertical-align: bottom;">Chris McCullough||Fr.||6'10"||210||15,6||7.4|
|Trevor Cooney"]" style="padding: 2px 3px; vertical-align: bottom;">Trevor Cooney||Jr.||6'4"||195||11.2||2.0|
|Kaleb Joseph "]" style="padding: 2px 3px; vertical-align: bottom;">Kaleb Joseph||Fr.||6'3"||165||7.4||2.8|
|Tyler Roberson"]" style="padding: 2px 3px; vertical-align: bottom;">Tyler Roberson||So.||6'8"||212||6.5||5.0|
Holy Cross is led by fifth-year head coach Milan Brown, who coached at Mount St. Mary's for a time and will be facing SU for the first time in his career. Brown's squad was picked to finish third in the Patriot League preseason head coaches' poll. The Crusaders earned two first-place votes in the poll, which ranked American and Army first and second, respectively.
Junior guard Eric Green is pacing the team with 14.0 points and 3.0 steals per game. He is hitting 59.4% of his shots and is the squad's best overall option on offense right now. He has yet to be held under double-digits in scoring after averaging 7.9 points and 4.0 rebounds last season.
Backcourtmate, senior guard Justin Burrell, is averaging 12.0 points and 5.3 assists per contest, while senior forward Malcom Miller is the team's inside presences adding 10.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Miller was named to the preseason All-Patriots League team.
|Holy Cross Crusaders (projected starting lineup)||Class||Ht.||Wt.||PPG||RPG|
|Taylor Abt"]" style="padding: 2px 3px; vertical-align: bottom;">Taylor Abt||Sr.||6'8"||225||5.3||2.7|
|Anthony Thompson"]" style="padding: 2px 3px; vertical-align: bottom;">Anthony Thompson||So.||5'10"||150||9.0||3.3|
|Justin Burrell"]" style="padding: 2px 3px; vertical-align: bottom;">Justin Burrell||Sr.||5'9"||165||12.0||2.7|
Head-to-head, the Orange have won 13 of the 25 match ups between the two programs. The history between the two teams dates back all the way to 1949, but oddly. they have only met twice during Jim Boeheim's tenure as Syracuse head coach.
The most recent showdown came in 2006-07, when SU won, 72-64. Demetris Nichols scored a game-high 21 points for SU, which allowed the Crusaders to make just one shot in the first nine minutes of play.
Game Time: 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN 3–Chris Hassel (play-by-play), Reggie Weatherspoon (color).
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network–Matt Park (play-by-play) and Jim Stalin (color).
Betting Line: N/A
The Meaningless Prediction: Syracuse 74, Holy Cross 54.
Holy Cross could be a sneaky-good opponent for Syracuse, which needs to find some offensive consistency before it heads off to Ann Arbor next week to play at the Michigan Wolverines in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
College hoops fans shouldn't expect an upset, but this contest shouldn't be a walk-over like Tuesday's match up with Loyla was.