Syracuse will go for its 10th conference win of the season when it travels south to play Wake Forest on Saturday, March 2 at 12 p.m. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
JIM STECHSCHULTE (Season Record: 3-1): A brief business trip. Nothing more than that. Get on the plane, take care of business, and fly home in time for dinner.
That is the goal for Syracuse this weekend. Travel to Wake Forest, win, and come home.
While the Demon Deacons are a couple games out of last place in the ACC, Ken Pomeroy has them as lowest-ranked ACC team in the country at #178, which is one spot below being the most average team in Division I.
Wake’s average ACC game has ended with them losing by 14 points, the worst point differential in the conference. They’re the worst shooting team in ACC games (36.7 percent overall, 28.1 percent on 3s) and have the worst field goal defense in conference games, as well (48.0 percent allowed). SU’s inconsistent offense is 11th in the ACC (41.6 percent on field goals) and 5th on defense (40.2 percent allowed).
The Orange will pack the 2-3 zone and take care of business, winning 72-59.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 7-6): The Demon Deacons are simply not good this season. They’re averaging just 69.1 ppg (274th in the NCAA) and allowing 75.9 ppg (281st).
The Deacons also have the worst overall record in the ACC (11-16) and are just two games ahead of Pitt for last place in the conference standings. They’re also 187th in the NET rankings, which means this is a Quad 3 game since SU is on the road.
A win gets Syracuse to 10 conference wins, which I think will be enough to get them into the tourney regardless of the outcome of SU’s remaining regular season schedule against Virginia and Clemson.
A loss would drop the Orange to 6-2 in Quad 3 games, with the potential of Old Dominion becoming a third loss because they’re teetering around the top 75 (a Quad 2 game is assigned to a top 75 game played at home). Syracuse was the last team selected for the NCAA Tournament in 2018 with a 7-2 record in Quad 3 games, so you can see the impact of having potentially three Quad 3 losses.
The sense of urgency should be there for SU, who played well despite losing to No. 5 UNC and No. 1 Duke in its last two games. SugarHouse, where you can play slingo games with PlaySugarHouse, has the Orange as a 7.5 point favorite and ESPN gives SU an 82 percent chance at winning this game.
The Orange has taken care of business against the bottom of the ACC with the exception of Georgia Tech, and I expect Syracuse to do so again on Saturday, defeating Wake Forest 68-53.