Syracuse will try to snap a three-game losing streak when it hosts Georgia Tech at the Carrier Dome (4:00 p.m. ET / RSN) on Saturday. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brendan Blehar and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record 2-0
Syracuse hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday where they are just 1-5 in their last six games. When you look closer and see that that one win is when they narrowly escaped from the bottom of the ACC totem pole Wake Forest, it’s understandable why the Orange is considered an NIT team at this point.
While no one really thought Syracuse would be an ACC powerhouse, they’re currently tied in the ACC standings with Georgia Tech, a team that hasn’t made the NCAA tourney since 2010. Syracuse routed Georgia Tech 97-63 back in December, which feels like ages ago at this point.
This one could come down to guard play. Joe Girard III has shown flashes of greatness but also, his shot selection needs to be toned back a bit as he has thrown up some questionable balls at inopportune times this season.
On the other side of the court, the Yellow Jackets have Jose Alvarado, who was out the first time these two teams played. Alvarado is ninth in the ACC in assists and fifth in steals. If Georgia Tech wants to continue this miserable run for Syracuse, Alvarado will be key.
In the end, Syracuse’s home court advantage and their zone defense will be too much for Georgia. Syracuse finds a way to get back into the win column, winning a close one 74-72.
Season Record 15-2
Back on Dec. 7, Syracuse had one of the best offensive performances of the season in a 97-63 road rout of Georgia Tech. Little went wrong that game for the Orange, with Buddy Boeheim (26 points) and Elijah Huhges (33) both setting career highs in points. For the game, the Orange shot 50.9 percent from the field and 14-33 from downtown.
Contrast that with Syracuse’s recent game against Louisville, a 90-66 blowout, where Boeheim and Hughes combined for 25 points on 9-28 shooting. The Orange isn’t nearly as good as their December performance against the Yellow Jackets, nor are they as bad as their disappointing game against the Cardinals.
The one thing Georgia Tech and Louisville have in common is their tough defenses. The Cardinals are 35th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, while the Yellow Jackets are actually one spot ahead at 34th.
Where the opponents differ is on the offensive end.
Louisville is one of the best offensive teams in the country, ranked 12th, while Georgia Tech is 163rd. The Yellow Jackets have seen an improvement on the offensive end since the return of Jose Alvarado, who in 19 games is averaging 14.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists. He didn’t play in the first matchup between these two teams, and his 1.8 steals should be a point of concern for SU.
Still, the Yellow Jackets are a terrible outside shooting team, combining for 30.1 percent shooting from downtown, with only leading scorer Michael Devoe (41.3 percent) as the team’s only true threat. They also only average 68.7 points per game. That leads me to predict Syracuse grinding out a 74-70 win to break them out of their most recent funk.