Syracuse host Notre Dame, Saturday night, in an ACC match-up. Both teams have had their struggles early on and will be eager to pick up a big win here.
TV Schedule: Saturday, January 4, 2020. 4:00 pm ET. ESPN 2
Location: Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.
After an awful stretch that saw the Syracuse Orange lose four of five, the ship seems to have been steady, and results have begun to turn around for Jim Boeheim‘s side. The Orange have won their last three against opponents who they really should be beating, but wins are wins and Syracuse will take them any way they can get them after their torrid start to the year. They’ve been scrappy and have thrown away opportunities many times.
These three wins, however, all at home, give new life to this side as they now sit at 8-5 and get ready for the most trying part of the schedule thus far. ‘Cute begin the year 2020 with a tough match-up against fellow ACC Notre Dame, as all that remains on their schedule are in-conference teams. If the Orange is to make the tournament, which still feels a very long shot, they’re going to have to pick up consistent wins against much better opposition at a better rate. This will have to begin on Saturday.
Notre Dame, 9-4 have been better than Syracuse as a whole. They aren’t a great offensive team, scoring 75.2 PPG and will find it hard coming up against Syracuse’s defense. Syracuse has been disappointing at times on the defensive end – where their game is usually at its best – so there’ll definitely be opportunities for the Fighting Irish to score from outside and work it inside too. Senior forward John Mooney is the Irish’s leading scorer with 14.9 PPG, he also crashes the boards and averages an incredible 13.5 RPG.
Aside from Mooney, there are three other Irish players who average double figures in points, including Prentiss Hubb who also leads the Irish in assists with 4.8 per game. Overall though the Irish offense isn’t the strongest that Syracuse will come up against, and if it’s one of the better nights for the Orange, defensively, then they’ll have the opportunities themselves to take the win here on the offensive end.
Syracuse has what it takes to match Notre Dame, it’s just a question as to whether or not they’ll turn up on the night. The Orange have been so on and off on both ends through their first thirteen games that it’s cost them in big situations and their tournament hopes can only take so little more damage. Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim are the best chances of the Orange taking this one. Both of whom can heat up pretty quickly and nail three-pointers at a staggering pace.
The Orange are going to need these two to be productive at around 40% from beyond the arc, and they’re also going to have to rely on getting good screens from the likes of Bourama Sidibe, Marek Dolezaj and co. as well as spacing the floor. Syracuse’s shooters are great when they’re turned on, but very poor when they’re not and the productivity usually comes when the shot opportunities are good too.
It’s a pretty even match-up on paper, but Notre Dame will likely be favored going into it. Syracuse will have the advantage of playing in front of the Dome crowd, but that hasn’t always been great for them this season. Both teams will be eager to get off to a winning start on the calendar year, and both teams will believe that they have the talent to do so. It should make for a tough game.