Syracuse will try to pick up its first win of 2020 when it travels to play Virginia (4:00 p.m. ET / ESPN) on Saturday. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
SAUGAT SEN (Season Record 1-0): Syracuse played Virginia in the first game of the season and the Cavaliers stymied the Orange offense in a 48-34 loss. A lot has changed since then.
Syracuse has lost starting guard Jalen Carey for the season and are only one game above 500. The Cavaliers had gone on to win 10 more games and were undefeated in the conference, until their hiccup against Boston College on Tuesday.
In the first meeting, Virginia big man Mamadi Diakite was a nightmare matchup for both Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj. Things will not get any easier for the Orange this time around, so expect Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III to shoot often from 3.
The vaunted Cavalier’s defense will stick with Elijah Hughes the whole game and force the Orange to look elsewhere for a scorer. The Orange will score more than they did to start the season, but it wont be by much. The Cavaliers take this one 52-40.
WES CHENG (Season Record 6-1): Since Virginia’s commanding win over Syracuse to start the 2019-20 basketball season in which they held the Orange to 34 points, things have gone mostly according to plan for Tony Bennett’s club.
The Cavaliers rose to as high as No. 5 in the polls, though they have stumbled in the last two weeks, with losses to South Carolina and most recently to Boston College earlier in the week.
The Eagles may have provided a blueprint for the Orange to pull off an upset.
BC went right at Virginia big man Mamadi Diakite, and he picked up two quick fouls, landing himself on the bench just 67 seconds into the game. That allowed Boston College to jump out to an early 18-8 lead with 10:46 before intermission, which set the tone for the match.
The other key was timely baskets, something SU has missed in losses to Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Jared Hamilton’s 3-pointer with 30 seconds left proved to be the key basket after Virginia had rallied late in the second half.
That seems to be a tall order for the Orange, which is going against the No. 1 KemPom rated defense in the country. The Cavaliers are still a slow and plodding team on offense, with an offensive tempo ranked 353rd, so it will be another low scoring game.
I see Syracuse keeping it interesting, staying within five points at half before Virginia’s stifling defense and SU’s lack of timely baskets allowing the Cavaliers to cruise to a relatively easy 56-45 win.