Syracuse and Notre Dame meet on Wednesday night in South Bend. Can the Orange build off their win on Saturday and go on an extended run to end the regular season? Or will Notre Dame rebound after a tough road loss to Wake Forest?
TV Schedule: Wednesday, February 23rd, 7 pm EST. ESPN News
Arena: Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana.
Syracuse (14-12, 8-7 ACC) travels to Notre Dame on a high note winning their latest game on Saturday at home over Boston College in blowout fashion by a final score of 76-56. Syracuse this year has been very inconsistent. If you need proof, look no further than their record.
In their last ten games, they are 6-4 and playing a better brand of basketball with winning five of their last six games overall. The Orange have held their own at home through thirteen games going 10-3. The problem is away from the Carrier Dome they are 3-6 in true road games.
It is no secret who Syracuse is led by out there on the court. Senior guard Buddy Boeheim is the true go-to guy and leader for this Syracuse team. Boeheim is always going to be the key guy on the scouting report to try and limit throughout the matchup for the opposing team. The problem is even with all the attention Buddy Boeheim always seems to be putting up great numbers night after night. How well has Buddy played this year? Of the twenty-six games this season Boeheim has been limited to single digits in scoring only four times.
Besides Buddy Boeheim, the Orange do have three other starters averaging in double figures in scoring. Those players are guard Joseph Girard III, along with forwards Cole Swider, and Jimmy Boeheim. The Villanova transfer in Cole Swider and the Cornell transfer in Jimmy Boeheim has been absolutely huge for the Orange. They are hovering around .500 with them. Scary to imagine what their record would look like without them not suiting up for Syracuse.
Syracuse suffered a huge loss recently with the injury to center Jesse Edwards. The sophomore big man in Edwards fractured his wrist a few weeks ago against Boston College and will now miss the rest of the season. Jesse Edwards was really having a fantastic year averaging 12 ppg, and 6 rebounds. He was also a big factor being a back-line defender on the famous Syracuse zone and being a big body around the rim.
Notre Dame (19-8, 12-4 ACC) had a tough loss on the road at Wake Forest on Saturday falling 79-74. The Irish at one point in the first half held a twelve-point lead but was not able to hold off a talented Wake Forest team in the end. A lot of that can be pointed to the fifteen turnovers committed by the Irish. Something that just does not happen often under coach Mike Brey-led teams at Notre Dame.
Nobody besides the players and coaching staff really saw or expected Notre Dame to be sitting alone in second place in the ACC standings with only four conference games remaining in the regular season. If Notre Dame is able to take care of business the rest of the way they will find themselves with a great chance of securing a double-bye in the upcoming ACC tournament in Brooklyn. They also would be on their way to being back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.
It has not always been pretty for Notre Dame, but the Irish have just kept on winning for the most part. They have especially won as of late as the Irish are 8-2 in their last ten games. Notre Dame has only lost four games dating back to December 18th which is over two months ago. Goes to show you how well the Irish have played after their rough start to the season.
Senior guard Dane Goodwin and freshman guard Blake Wesley have been the most consistent players for the Irish all year long. One player who really has stepped up in ACC play is forward Paul Atkinson Jr. The Yale transfer in Atkinson Jr. has been very productive and everything that the Irish coaching staff could have imagined when they brought him in over the offseason. Paul Atkinson Jr. is averaging 12.3 ppg, and 6.9 rebounds. In his last ten games, he has reached double digits in scoring for eight of those games.
Neither of these teams goes very deep into their benches, but with the injury to Edwards as of late Syracuse has to go a bit deeper trying to find some more production. On the other side, the Irish are still working back forward Nate Laszewski into the rotation after missing a few games with a leg injury. Guard Trey Wertz, along with Laszewski give Notre Dame a little boost off the bench to knock down shots from distance against the Syracuse zone.
Notre Dame in their twelve home games leading up to this matchup is an impressive 11-1 with the lone loss coming against Duke last month. Factor in that Syracuse has struggled away from home gives the edge here to the Irish. This veteran-led Notre Dame team has only lost at least back-to-back games once this season. Fully expect them to bounce back in a tightly contested game against Syracuse.
Prediction: Notre Dame 79, Syracuse 72