Syracuse plays in the second game of its ACC home stand against Georgia Tech at the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 6 p.m. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
BRAD BIERMAN (Season Record: 1-0): Only two games into ACC play with victories both away and home, it’s clearly evident that Syracuse (11-4, 2-0) is going to have to protect its home court in conference play, and of the remaining eight ACC road games the goal is to finish above .500 among 15 teams in which five schools have yet to win in league play going into today’s (Jan. 12) seven game schedule.
As the Orange look to make it five straight wins this evening hosting Georgia Tech (9-6, 1-1) in one of those conference meetings (6:00 p.m. ET / ESPN2), before a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium and No. 1 Duke looms just over 48 hours later, the aim is to again put up points, bunches of baskets, against a Yellow Jackets team that went from 92 points beating Wake Forest Jan. 5, to 49 total three nights ago losing to Virginia Tech.
There’s no doubt this ‘Cuse team has a different look with Marek Dolezaj at center, and who’s to say he wasn’t the top playmaker with his co-game high four assists and usual overall hustle in the win over Clemson Wed. night?
Combined with Frank Howard progressing slowly, but indeed now surely, as if he was on the same kind of schedule of improvement over the course of this season mirroring that of how far he’s come since his freshman year, it only bodes well for adding point production to the reliable trio of Battle, Brissett, and Hughes.
Georgia Tech will have had only two days of practice and today’s shoot-around to familiarize itself with the Orange zone defense and pressure situations, and once again we see that as the difference maker against a team that fumbled with easy shots and self-destructed in the final minutes of attempting to pull off a huge home win over the top 10 ranked Hokies. Syracuse 81, Georgia Tech 69.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 2-0): This game features two of the better defensive teams in the NCAA.
Georgia Tech comes in at 25th in the country, allowing opponents to score just 63.1 points per game. Specifically, the Yellow Jackets defend the 3-point line well, holding opponents to 28.4 percent from downtown.
Syracuse isn’t too shabby on defense, either. They’re nine slots ahead GT in overall defense at 16th in the nation, giving up 61.5 ppg.
But as good as the Jackets have been on defense, they’ve struggled to put up points. Georgia Tech averages just 71.2 ppg, and an anemic 60.6 points in six losses.
In their most recent game (and loss), the Yellow Jackets dropped a heartbreaking 52-49 game to No. 9 Virginia Tech. Head coach Josh Pastner has described his team’s defense as “pretty good,” but needs to find a way to get leading scorer Jose Alvarado (13.6 ppg) more help.
With the Yellow Jackets shooting 30.9 percent from beyond the arc this season, expect the Syracuse defense to pack in and suffocate Georgia Tech, practically daring them to shoot from downtown.
Syracuse’s offense has improved lately, and that will be enough to give SU its third straight win in conference play, 55-50, in what will be an ugly, defensive slugfest.