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Syracuse has now won five Atlantic Coast Conference games and is the winner of two straight games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Now the oranges played the first of two conference away games against significantly better ACC teams. First up is Miami, a surprise in the conference as the Hurricanes jumped out with a 14-3 start and also have five conference wins.
Despite losing two of their last three games, including a loss to Georgia Tech and an overtime loss to NC State, the Hurricanes still sit at the top of the conference they haven’t dominated in decades. Syracuse will blaze a trail to overtake Miami in the standings and add more spark to a season it now sees as a formidable ACC threat.
Here’s what our beat writers think when the Orange take on Miami.
Anish Vasudevan (15-3)
Just like last year
Miami 77, Syracuse 74
Miami is in the midst of its worst streak of the year with two losses in the last three games. While the Orange are on a small run, they’ve had to fight back in matchups against Louisville and Notre Dame, though that’s a skill they haven’t shown this year. The Hurricanes aren’t a huge threat on the glass, but they’re averaging 78.2 points per game, a mark that’s third-best in the ACC.
Syracuse will focus on stopping Isaiah Wong, but the Hurricanes have three other starters averaging double figures, including transfers from Nijel Pack and Norchad Comier. These new threats add even more to Miami’s elite offense, which is one of the best teams within the arc nationally.
Maliq Brown will continue to shine with more playing time and Joe Girard III will look to command the Orange over the Hurricanes. But like last year, which ended in two narrow one-point and three-point losses for Syracuse, Miami didn’t lose at home this year. This series continues on Monday.
Connor Smith (16-2)
The slow start catching up
Miami 79, Syracuse 70
After a 13-1 start to the season with victories over Virginia, Rutgers and Providence, the Hurricanes have slipped in recent weeks, losing two away games at Georgia Tech and NC State. Syracuse, meanwhile, is still rolling, winners of nine of their last 11 games. However, the problem for the Orange has been slow starts and Saturday’s game against Notre Dame was no exception. It may be okay to fall into double figures against teams like the Irish or Virginia Tech, but doing so on the road against No. 16 Miami is a recipe for failure.
The Hurricanes have some good players, including Wong and Omier, who are ranked 14th nationwide for offensive rebounds according to KenPom. That’s not good news for SU, who are one of the worst defensive-rebound teams in the nation. With minutes still being sorted out at the forward position — Benny Williams has only played 19 minutes in the last two games while Brown and Chris Bell shone against ND — I don’t think Syracuse is ready to beat a top-20 team on road.
Girard should bounce back with a strong game and Jesse Edwards should have no problem posting a double-double against an underpowered Miami court. But I also expect the Orange to have another slow start and fall back early, which will force them into a pressing in the second half that won’t work like it did on Saturday. SU definitely needs quadrants I win and this one would certainly look good on an NCAA tournament resume, but I think Syracuse is a few weeks away from winning a game like this.
Anthony Alandt (12-6)
Not here yet
Miami 80, Syracuse 69
Syracuse was so close to losing to Notre Dame that Jim Boeheim relied on four freshmen to narrowly defeat the Fighting Irish. The Oranges are no strangers to slow starts, preventing them from fully taking over a game despite mostly storming back just enough time to win. It’s no longer a secret that Syracuse has thrived on a litany of players, too, having won games where Girard or Edwards struggled.
But Miami is just too hot this season to lead one to believe that Syracuse can make the same mistakes and pull off a win down the road. I expect the Orange will continue to spread their points and find contributions from a variety of players, but the Hurricanes just have too much talent to deal with the Oranges, especially when their 3-point defense continues to suffer and they allow for more spots in the paint.
Published January 15, 2023 at 11:12 p.m