Syracuse returns home after a three-game road trip to host Florida State at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
SAUGAT SEN (Season Record: 0-1): Florida State started the ACC season 1-4 with losses to Boston College and Pittsburgh. This was a rough patch after an auspicious 12-1 start to the regular season. However, a turnaround win against in state rival Miami followed by wins against Clemson and Georgia Tech has the Seminoles back in the Top 25.
The three-game win streak comes on the back of FSU getting several of their star players back. As FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said after the win against Miami, “This is the first game that we’ve had everybody healthy the entire year.”
Syracuse will need vintage “Duke Chukwu” at this game because FSU features center Christ Koumadje who is actually taller than Chukwu, standing at 7’4″.
The key will be the outside shooting from the Seminoles. Coming into this game, the Seminoles shot 46 percent against Clemson and 60 percent against Miami before cooling off to 25 percent against their last opponent, Georgia Tech. Syracuse will need to key in on the outside shooting from the Seminoles to win their 8th ACC conference, and I see them doing exactly that for a 71-68 win over FSU.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 6-3): Florida State has had injury issues on and off throughout the entire season. It started back in October when fifth-year forward Phil Cofer suffered a right foot injury that caused him to miss the first nine games of the season.
Though Cofer returned in late December and appeared in six straight games, he suffered a separate foot injury, and missed a pair of games against Boston College (a loss) and Miami (a win). He seems to have put that injury behind him as well, and has played in the last two games.
Aside from Cofer, Terance Mann, MJ Walker and Trent Forrest have all fought through injuries, with Walker missing two games.
It was a sigh of relief for Hamilton when he was able to play his original rotation over the past two games (wins over Georgia Tech and Miami), and Florida State has found its balance after falling out of the top 25 earlier in January.
The Seminoles have an efficient offense (ranked 39th by KenPom) and defense (22), and have five different players who shoot better than 36 percent from downtown. I’ll give the advantage to the Orange, who is playing at home, with Syracuse edging out the Seminoles, 76-71.