Syracuse and Gonzaga are looking to avoid going 0-2 in the Maui Invitational in the loser’s bracket. Which team has the edge in this matchup?
TV schedule: Tuesday, November 21st, 2:30 pm ET
Arena: Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii
What makes this year’s Maui Invitational so good is that the elite depth of participating teams allows us to have great games on both the winner’s and loser’s side of the bracket. And that includes two notable national programs, Syracuse and Gonzaga.
Syracuse (3-1) came into the Maui Invitational as an underdog compared to the rest of the field and its first-round opponent, Tennessee. But the Orange led early on, despite leading scorer Judah Mintz dealing with foul trouble. Benny Williams, who was suspended for the first few games of the season, provided a lift off the bench to keep them in the game in the first half.
However, even with Mintz giving them some scoring in the second half, the game eventually got away from Syracuse, losing 73-56. Chris Bell led the team with 16 points, while Mintz had 15. The Vols defense did a number on the team, holding the Orange to just 35% shooting from the field.
Gonzaga (2-1) was actually ahead of No. 2 Purdue at halftime, 35-30. But the team went cold in the second half, not making a single three-pointer. The 26 points in the final 20 minutes wasn’t enough, losing 73-63. It was a balanced effort, with all five starters scoring at least eight points. Big man Graham Ike led the way with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulldogs’ frontcourt depth wasn’t enough against Zach Edey but Syracuse doesn’t have much depth either, though they also have a 7’4 starting center in Naheem McLeod. The Orange will need a big game from him defensively in order to have a shot.
Neither starting backcourt had a great game on Monday so seeing which backcourt duo shoots well could decide who wins this battle. It’s hard to envision the Bulldogs losing two straight games and the young Orange may still have some growing pains in the early season. I like the Bulldogs to get the win.
Prediction: Gonzaga 74, Syracuse 66