New York State In-depth

What you should know about Virginia No. 7 in his 2nd matchup with SU

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After giving away a possible win to North Carolina, Syracuse stumbled out the gates of Virginia Tech and never recovered. Now the Orange are on a two-game losing streak for the first time since late November, when they lost three straight games to St. John’s, Bryant and Illinois.

After victories over teams like Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, SU appeared to be a bubble NCAA tournament team at times but is now 13-9. As glaring off-conference losses and tight prospects throughout the season become ever more pervasive, Syracuse is running out of time to build its NCAA tournament resume. Next up are the Orange at home against Virginia, a team SU was closely tied with on Jan. 7 but ultimately improved to 3-2 in conference play.

After the game, head coach Jim Boeheim said the Cavaliers were “taking too much.” Ahead of their second matchup of the season, here’s everything you need to know about Virginia.

All time series

Virginia leads 12-6.

They played last time

Syracuse ends the month of January by playing against the Premiere team at the ACC. The Orange traveled to Virginia on January 7 after narrowly defeating Boston College and Louisville. After giving up a lead on Pittsburgh, it was to be a test of whether or not the young Syracuse team could compete with the upper echelons of the conference. It stalled on the track, proving it wasn’t ready for that. The Orange went into half-time nine points down but within striking distance of a side who were beginning to warm up against the 2-3 zone from across the arc.

Then Virginia jumped out on a 12-0 run to start the first half, effectively thwarting Syracuse’s chances to come back and upset the then-No. 11 team in the country. Although Joe Girard III had a game-high 19 points total and Mintz (18), Maliq Brown (10 points and eight rebounds) and Jesse Edwards (10 rebounds) all made solid showings, the Oranges fell a full 23 points. A late-game run and the Cavaliers actually outscoring in the second half weren’t enough to get the orange out of its hole.

Narrow losses since-No. 17 Miami and North Carolina continued to show that this iteration of Syracuse might not be able to finish big games against the top teams in the conference. This makes the loss to Virginia on the road more of a commonality than an aberration.

KenPom Odds

Virginia has a 66% chance of winning with a predicted score of 70-65.

The Cavaliers Report

The victory over Syracuse started a six-game winning streak that the Cavaliers now enter Monday night and they sit 8-2 in the ACC at the top of the conference. Armaan Franklin just surpassed 1,000 career points with Virginia and the Cavaliers are rolling. They are the 20th best team in the country in 3-point shooting, a fact Virginia used against the Orange earlier this month. It has five players shooting from beyond the arc with over 30% shot and shooting 3s as a team 38.2%.

The Cavaliers’ turnover percentage (14.6%) is also the ninth-best in the country, partly contributing to their not allowing a single team to score more than 69 points. UVA is known for their slow pace and this team is ranked 360th in average pace this season. With an inexperienced lineup that lets the emotion of the moment make the most of it in the late stages of the game, the Cavaliers want to make sure Syracuse dips below their season average of 75 points per game.

How Syracuse beats Virginia

First, Girard will need a comeback against Virginia if the Orange are going to have any chance in this game against one of the best defensive teams in the country. Struggling on the road in a game against Virginia Tech is one thing, but pursuing that task with the Cavaliers is a tall order that will likely prove insurmountable when it comes to points for late-season Syracuse hooks. Mintz must quickly learn how to play within himself and keep clean sheets.

Easing the pitch and creating opportunities for Girard, Benny Williams and Chris Bell to score is what will keep Syracuse close to Virginia. And there can’t be a slow start to this game that the Orange are used to. Those long runs, particularly catalyzed by turnovers and slow transition play from Syracuse – which buried it against North Carolina – need to be tempered against Virginia or the Orange will struggle to make headway.

You also just have to stay within yourself. Miami and North Carolina were such costly collapses that they likely derailed a season that could have ended at the NCAA tournament. If they want a last breath for their season, a postseason game, or a better position in the ACC tournament, they need to shoot better than they did last time against Virginia and more from inside the paint. This will be a big challenge against a team that only allows 44.7% shots from the bow.

Getting to know stats: 7.5%

Virginia’s 7.5 percent theft rate ranks 20th nationally. While the Orange have averaged an 11% steal percentage this season, it’s key late-stage turnovers in tight games that have consistently hampered Syracuse. Virginia is already known as one of the best defensive teams in the nation and this season is no exception. So if Syracuse starts hurting itself by coughing up the ball and prematurely stopping its possession, the Cavaliers will easily waltz to a season sweep of the orange.

Players to watch: Armaan Franklin, Guard, No.4

Stephanie Zaso | Digital Design Director

The last time Syracuse played Virginia, Franklin led the Cavaliers by 16 points and went 4-for-9 with 3 points en route to a win over the Orange. Franklin was in the middle of nine straight games and hitting double digits during a massive winning streak for the Cavaliers. He also shoots 41% from beyond the arc and will likely give Syracuse seizures again. While he doesn’t have the assist numbers that some ACC guards do, he’ll still generate plenty of offense and likely break into Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.


Contact Anton: [email protected] | @anthonyalandt

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