Syracuse renews its rivalry with Georgetown when they play at the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. (TV: ESPN2). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record: 1-0
Syracuse and Georgetown in an empty Carrier Dome? Say it isn’t so.
Remember former Hoyas coach John Thompson III famously said after the last scheduled game against Syracuse in 2013’s Big East Tournament semifinal Orange win, “it’s a shame they’re heading down to Tobacco Road for a few dollars more.”
Those “few dollars” are many millions more in the ACC football world of the CFP era, but Syracuse is wise enough to still have room for its fiercest former rival on the basketball schedule. And besides, Georgetown has won three of the five games played since the 2014-15 season.
Both teams come into Saturday night’s renewal having blown double digit leads in their previous games on Wednesday; Syracuse (up 18) to Pitt and Georgetown (up 11) at Butler, providing opportunity for a quick turnaround from disappointment (Patrick Ewing’s team has also lost four straight).
Syracuse is simply not the same team without the flexibility of having a big presence in the middle. Bourama Sidibe was supposed to get back to action against Pitt, but is suffering soreness in his right knee after December surgery.
Jim Boeheim has not given backup centers Jesse Edwards (12 min. in 4/8 games), John Bol Ajak (29 min. in 5/8 games), or Frank Anselem (26 min. in 4/8 games-out vs. Pitt) significant playing time, but he may have to adjust at some point against a big Hoyas team; starters Qudus Wahab (6’11”), and Jamorko Pickett (6’9”), along with raw reserve Timothy Ighoefe (7’0”).
If Quincy Guerrier and/or Marek Dolezaj get in foul trouble, as Guerrier did against Pitt when the ‘Cuse suffered a huge rebounding deficit (minus 16), the Orange will also need to hit better looks at outside shots at a better clip (26 missed three-pointers on Wed.).
We think shooting will improve against Georgetown. The top six players will be more consistent with a game under their belts after the long layoff, facing a tough Hoyas man defense. The Orange zone will also keep a close eye on GU guard and leading scorer Jahvon Blair, who averages eight treys per game.
Syracuse will have enough to record a win before returning to ACC play next week, SU holding off Georgetown 72-67.
Season Record 2-1
If you think Syracuse’s second half collapse against Pitt was frustrating, Georgetown (3-7) wants you to hold its beer.
In a 63-55 loss to Butler on Wednesday, the Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run to close out a low-scoring game, 63-55. That came one game after the Hoyas went into halftime up 16 points against Marquette, but ultimately lost, 64-60.
After the loss to the Golden Eagles, head coach Patrick Ewing described the second half effort as “selfish.”
That has been a microcosm of the Hoyas’ season. Georgetown loathes to move the ball, averaging just 13.0 assists per game, which is near the bottom of the NCAA at 221st, and their offense (71.7 ppg, 214th) has suffered accordingly.
Where Georgetown excels is on the interior. Big men Qudus Wahab and Jamorko Pickett combined for 17.5 rebounds per game, and as a team, the Hoyas average 43.6 per game, good for 8th in the country. They’re also a decent outside shooting team, at 35.5 percent.
Those are two statistics that should make Syracuse worried. Its perimeter defense has been spotty this season, and without Bourama Sidibe, SU’s rebounding has suffered.
In its loss to Pitt, Syracuse was -16 on the glass and Pitt guard Ithiel Horton pumped in four 3-pointers as the Panthers came all the way back from a double-digit deficit to hand the Orange their second loss of the season.
Sidibe could be back, which would certainly help SU on the glass, but Syracuse will need to pay close attention to guards Donald Carey (42.6 3pt%) and Dante Harris (34.8).
I see Syracuse struggling to contain the Hoyas inside, but ultimately having a better offensive game from Wednesday as the Orange holds on for a 61-57 win.