Syracuse opens its 2020-21 ACC conference schedule when it travels to Massachusetts to play Boston College on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. (TV: ESPNU). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record: 0-0
For the second straight game, Syracuse will face an old Big East rival. This time, it’s Boston College, who have had a tough start to their season. The Eagles (1-4) have been woeful at rebounding, averaging only 33.4 per game.
That’s good news for the Orange, who were outrebounded against Rutgers 42-26. Syracuse should also get their best shooter in Buddy Boeheim back, who is returning from his COVID contact tracing quarantine.
Eagles are led by junior guard, Wynston Tabbs who is coming off a season high 24 points in their last game against Minnesota (an 85-80 loss). The key to the Orange will be how much playing time freshman Kadary Richmond is given with Buddy Boeheim back in the lineup.
Richmond only played nine minutes in his first game as an Orange. Since then he has averaged 9.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 4 steals per game. In their respective freshman years, Joe Girard averaged 12.4 points, 3 rebounds, 3.5 assists. and 1.5 steals and Buddy Boeheim averaged 6.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1 assist and 0.6 steals.
Richmond’s defensive abilities at the top of the zone and his ability to find open shooters makes him an instant spark off the bench, and the Orange will ride his good play to a relatively easy 82-69 win.
Season Record 0-0
Boston College clearly wanted to challenge itself at the start of the 2020-21 season. While Syracuse played three cupcake games against Bryant (turning out to be… not so cupcake), Niagara and Rider, the Eagles have played (and lost) to four Power 6 teams in then-No. 3 Villanova, St. John’s, Florida and Minnesota.
Boston College only looked overmatched against Florida (a 90-70 loss), with the other three games being decided by an average of 6 points. For reference, the Eagles had a nine-point lead on Villanova in the second half. In their lone win, Boston College held off a feisty Rhode Island team (transfer Jalen Carey finished with eight points).
While the Eagles do rank near the bottom of college basketball in points (149th), rebounds (258) and assists (272), that also has to do with a tougher opening schedule. KenPom is actually more forgiving of Boston College, ranking them 84th in adjusted offense.
If anything, the Eagles are due for one, with their luck ranking (a measure of the deviation of the team’s actual winning percentage vs. efficiencies) places them at 250.
Still, the return of Buddy Boeheim helps significantly. Though SU’s defense will almost certainly suffer with him and Girard on the floor at the same time, should Girard’s offensive struggles continue (he’s now shooting 26.1 percent from the field after a 1-8 performance against Rutgers), Jim Boeheim now has the depth to swap in Kadary Richmond.
The Orange’s advance statistics on KenPom look better, with a higher adjusted offense (49) and defense (37). While this game will be close throughout, I see the Orange executing enough down the stretch to pull out a 65-59 road win to start ACC play.