Syracuse plays its first ACC home game when it hosts Clemson at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
JIM STECHSCHULTE: A lot of advanced stat ratings list Syracuse and Clemson as pretty even teams, but there are a couple things that play in favor of the Orange defense.
The Tigers attempt fewer 3s than the average team and are not particularly good at shooting them, hitting just 32 percent on the season. Only two of their players have made at least one-third of their 3s on the season. The Tigers also turn the ball over a lot, ranking 298th in the country in turnover rate, giving away 18.3 percent of their possessions.
These stats play into SU’s defensive strengths. The Orange lead the nation in opponents’ 3-point rate and are 35th in the country in forcing turnovers. More than half of the field goals against the Syracuse 2-3 zone are 3s (and foes make only 30.5 percent of them) and the Orange force turnovers on over 20 percent of possessions.
Syracuse will slow Clemson enough for the Orange to grab a 67-61 win.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 1-0): Clemson guard Marcquise Reed has become Clemson’s top scoring option in his senior season, averaging a team-leading 19.6 points per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the field. But as Jim states above, the Tigers as a whole have struggled to shoot from downtown and Reed is no exception.
After shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc in his first two seasons at Clemson, he was down to 35.4 percent last year and is at 31.9 percent this season. His struggles from downtown were particularly pronounced in losses to Creighton and Nebraska in non-conference play, where he combined for just 1 for 9 from 3.
But Clemson has also been strong on the boards this season, enjoying an average of a +5.6 margin per game. The Tigers have been particularly opportunistic on offensive rebounds, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game, which is 15th in the country according to KenPom.com.
So Clemson excels in one area that Syracuse struggles in (rebounding) while playing into SU’s hands in another (3-point shooting). That should lead to a closely contested game throughout, with the Orange outlasting the Tigers 65-60 at home.