Syracuse will try for its second win in a row when it faces North Florida (6:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network) at the Carrier Dome. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brendan Blehar and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
BRENDAN BLEHAR: While North Florida started an impressive 5-0 on the season, they’ve since struggle mightily on the road, where they’ve gone 2-6. While the Osprey’s may not stack up well against ranked opponents (0-25 since entering D-1), Syracuse isn’t one of those historic teams we’ve seen in past years.
This game has all the makings to either be a barn-burner or a snooze fest. Both Syracuse and North Florida like to put up shots from beyond the arc. Against Oakland, Syracuse took 34 of its 58 shot attempts from the 3-point line. North Florida mirrored that against Florida State, attempting 34 of their own. It may shock you, but North Florida owns the advantage from the 3-point line because they lead the nation with 162 3-pointers made.
If both teams are hot, this one could be high scoring. But North Florida is not familiar with Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, and I see them struggling early finding a rhythm. This one will be close but Syracuse will keep North Florida’s road losing streak intact. Syracuse continues to roll in the right direction beating the Ospreys 84-76.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 3-0): Syracuse held off a pesky Oakland team on Wednesday that played to the Orange’s faults. Two specific Golden Grizzlies, Xavier Hill-Mais (6’7″) and Brad Brechting (6’11”), had their way inside, combining for 36 points and 12 rebounds. They also got Syracuse big men Bourama Sidibe and Quincy Guerrier in foul trouble, each ending the game with four.
Contrast that to a North Florida team that doesn’t have a single player on the roster over 6’7″ and leads the NCAA with 162 3-pointers made, and it will be a very different kind of opponent. As a team, the Ospreys shoot better than 37 percent from downtown, with four different players having hit more than 20 3-pointers through 13 games. That has allowed North Florida to rank 117 in the KenPom adjusted offense rankings, though still not at the same level as the Orange, who are currently 59th.
Where North Florida struggles is on defense, where they rank near the bottom of Division I basketball at 270. Against teams from the Power 6 conferences (Florida, Iowa, Creighton and Florida State), they’ve surrendered 82.7 points per game this season. That’s actually very close to what the Orange has scored against teams outside the Power 6 (80.4 points per game).
That all seems to point in the direction of a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair, with the Ospreys just not being able to get enough stops to keep pace with SU down the stretch. Syracuse takes this one 85-76.