Syracuse finishes up the regular season when it heads down to Florida to play Miami (1:00 p.m. ET / ACCN) on Saturday. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record 5-1
Syracuse will faces Miami in its regular season finale with the fifth seed in the ACC Tournament at stake.
The loss to UNC at home hurt SU, but the possibility of being the highest seed among the teams with a single bye in the conference tournament would be a boon for the Orange, who was originally picked to finish eighth in the ACC.
On the other side, Jim Larranaga’s team has struggled all season and is currently tied for second to last place in the league.
Syracuse center Bourama Sidibe has been playing the best basketball of his career, averaging 11.5 rebounds in his past four games. While Miami will bring some height in their back line with 7-footer Rodney Miller and 6-10 forward Sam Waardenburg, expect Sidibe to have another big game down low.
Elijah Hughes will end the season as the leading scorer in the ACC and he will continue with his hot shooting along with Buddy Boeheim. The Orange will come out of the gates strong to put Miami away and cruise to a 76-64 win.
Season Record 18-3
Syracuse is currently ranked 139th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings this season because they’ve struggled in two particular departments: Defending the 3-pointer and rebounding.
The Orange is up to eighth in the ACC in rebounding at 39.1 per game, though that number has been boosted by the improved play of Bourama Sidibe, who has been in double figures in rebounding in each of his last four games, including nine points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Boston College.
The good news for the Orange is that Miami isn’t particularly good at the two things that have hurt SU.
The Hurricanes are decidedly mediocre in both categories (as, by the way, are the Orange). Miami is ninth in the ACC in rebounding, at 1.1 rebounds less than SU per game, while they are eighth in the ACC in 3-point shooting at 32.1 percent (by comparison, the Orange is seventh at 33.4 percent).
So why is Syracuse ranked 20th in adjusted offensive efficiency while Miami is 75th? The Hurricanes struggle to distribute the ball, with more turnovers (12.1) than assists (9.9). By contrast, the Orange averages 14.1 assists to 11.5 turnovers.
Miami has lost three in a row, with its most recent game a heartbreaking 2-point loss to No. 22 Virginia. That losing streak will continue, with the Orange topping the Hurricanes 77-71.