Syracuse hosts Miami on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
JIM STECHSCHULTE (Season Record: 1-0): Miami has had a tough start to their ACC schedule, dropping four of five games. Three were by single digits against teams ranked at that time and the fourth is now ranked, so it certainly looks like they just struggled with a very tough slate.
Miami’s best win, though, was by two points over Fresno State two months ago on a neutral court. After that, it’s Lehigh, who is Ken Pomeroy’s 151st-best team in the country. In fact, the Hurricanes’ eight losses are all against teams ranked in the top 125 teams by Pomeroy, who has the Orange at #38.
Before you pencil this one in the win column, though, know that Miami has three above-average three-point shooters as part of five players averaging double digits in scoring and remember this inconsistent SU team has had struggles in every ACC game thus far, including against some of the weaker squads. The Orange will need to play strong perimeter defense or they’ll find themselves on the bad end of the score.
Good Syracuse shows up enough of the time for a 73-65 win.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 4-2): It’s been a trying season for Miami basketball.
Junior forward Dewan Hernandez has not played at all this season as a result of his entanglement with a college basketball corruption case.
That has left head coach Jim Larranaga with limited options, and he’s been forced to play a seven-man rotation. It’s led to some ugly losses, with a four-game non-conference losing streak, including losses to Yale and UPenn.
The Hurricanes also started 0-3 in ACC play for the first time in school history before getting a much-needed home win over Wake Forest.
Miami kept pace with No. 13 North Carolina on Saturday, but playing a limited rotation finally caught up with the Hurricanes, and the Tar Heels were able to hang on, 85-76.
The playing time has benefited younger players like Chris Lykes, who has nearly doubled his production from his freshman year, leading the team in scoring at 18.1 ppg. He had a team-high 20 points against UNC, going 8-16 from the field and 4-8 from beyond the arc.
I would expect a similar type of game when the Hurricanes come up to Central New York on Thursday, with the game being close throughout the second half before the Orange pull away for a 69-62 win.