After losing three of its last four games, Syracuse (14-7, 5-3 ACC) returns home to host Virginia Tech (9-12, 1-7) on Tuesday evening at the Carrier Dome. The Hokies picked up their first conference win on Jan. 27 against Pitt in overtime, but have gone just 1-7 in ACC play. Who will win the game? Our panel at The Juice Online weighed in:
Saugat Sen: Sure Virginia Tech only has one win in the conference but that win was against a tough Pittsburgh team in overtime. Let’s not forget that the Hokies still had a shot at beating the Orange with a last second 3 the last time around. Almost an identical last second effort ended in the Hokies losing to Virginia by 3. This team may look lost on offense at times, but they are still gritty and love to make head coach Buzz Williams sweat it out. Syracuse 72 – VTech 65. Buzz Williams shirt changes – 3.
Steve Auger: Syracuse has had eight days to dwell on back-to-back losses to Miami and North Carolina. Under normal Orange circumstances, I’d pity the visiting Virginia Tech Hokies. But this is hardly a typical hoops season in upstate New York. The Orange was lucky to barely escape Va. Tech with a 68-66 win back in early January. Syracuse watched a 42-23 halftime lead evaporate down to two in the second half. Guard Justin Bibbs was a one-man wrecking crew against the Orange after dropping 22 points (4-of-8 from three) while collecting 11 boards. Like its loss to Miami, Syracuse can trace this one back to the foul line; 16-of-28 from the charity stripe. I hate to sound like a broken record, but solid nights from the Orange’s Big Three of Christmas, Cooney and Gbinije, along with a better effort from the free throw line, should earn Syracuse its sixth league win. Syracuse 72 – Va Tech 62.
Wesley Cheng: As my fellow colleague Saugat Sen just said, don’t let the one conference win fool you. The Hokies nearly did what no team has done this season – defeat Virginia in a 3-point heart breaker on Jan. 25. Their last two losses to the Cavaliers and Wake Forest have come by a combined six points, and in its win over Pitt, Virginia Tech shot 12-for-27 from downtown. If the Hokies can approach those numbers from downtown against Syracuse, things could get interesting. Syracuse 57 – Va Tech 52.