After an upset on the road against #11 Virginia, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (10-6, 3-2) returns to the fray Tuesday night to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies (11-5, 1- 4) to compete. . The Orange are hoping to capitalize on that at home against a Hokies team entering the competition with a four-game sled. However, Virginia Tech’s last four losses to the ACC have all been in single digits, so the matchup will still be a competitive one for ‘Cuse.
Syracuse will look to recover in this upcoming series of games to prepare for their upcoming matchups against #12 Miami and North Carolina in what has proven to be an open contest as to who can come out on top in the ACC.
Here’s what to look for in the Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech competition:
Dom: We’ve heard that before
Although the Hokies don’t have the same top-notch reputation as Virginia, Virginia Tech categorizes itself as one of the better defenses in the ACC. The Hokies rank third in opposing points per game, fourth in opposing field goal percentage, and fourth in opposing three-point percentage in the conference. But recently, Virginia Tech has allowed its last four opponents to average 72 points per game, almost eight points above the season average. If Syracuse finds itself in a hole early on, it will struggle to get out unless outside shots come. The Oranges need to make a statement from the start and cannot be relied upon to ward off an early deficit.
Kevin: Find the shooters
I’ve read comments all year about how Syracuse’s defenses are better and it’s going to become a force and so on and so forth. In 16 games, the Oranges have allowed opponents to hit double digits 8 times in 3s. It’s not just volume, as across the five ACC games, teams make 39% from beyond. Even without Hunter Cattoor, Syracuse will need to find shooters if the ball goes to Justyn Mutts at the high post. The forward averages 3.5 assists per game and posted a triple-double against the Orange last year.
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Mike: Ball control
The Hokies are near the bottom of the ACC for forcing turnovers: 14th for average steals (4.9) and 11th for average blocks (3.7). SU must be smart with the ball and patiently play the perimeter play, waiting for Jesse and others to find holes inside. This is a winnable game, as the Oranges quickly run out of cheap matchups on the calendar, they can’t play around with the ones they have left.
Christian: Do you remember the guy?
Syracuse did a great job, for the most part, taking Jim Boeheim’s advice and giving the ball to Jesse Edwards. The Orange didn’t have that option against the Hokies last year because that game was the first Edwards missed after his broken wrist ended his season early. Syracuse, for one, faces an undersized team compared to Edwards, which should help the Oranges on both sides of the ball. Syracuse would let Edwards have the ball as the only Orange ACC losses this season have come when the big man has scored in single digits. Time to feed Jesse Edwards again.
Szuba: Who’s starting slow?
It might be mundane to continue talking about Syracuse’s slow starts, but it’s especially relevant against a Virginia Tech that’s also been somewhat slow to get used to the start of games. So which team will come out more aggressive, or will both teams continue the trend and start flat?
We pay attention to that. Now tell us what you’ll be looking for in Tuesday night’s encounter against Virginia Tech.