Syracuse travels to Charlottesville to take on No. 13 Virginia on Monday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. (TV: ESPN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record: 3-0
Since Virginia opened John Paul Jones arena in 2006, the Cavaliers have won an impressive 82 percent of their games (201-43) on their home court, and that number is even higher since Tony Bennet took over (86 percent) as head coach in 2009.
Syracuse has played five times in the beautiful facility, a 2007 game as Big East members, and four times in the ACC sporting a 2-3 record in the building, including a 63-55 shocker last season in Charlottesville.
This time around in a Big Monday ESPN game, both teams will have come off Saturday victories in contrasting fashion, with the Orange blitzing Virginia Tech by 18 in the Dome, and UVA holding on for a 64-62 win over Georgia Tech in C-ville when a Yellow Jackets three-pointer bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
This game is a matchup of the ACC’s top defense in UVA, giving up only 60 points a game, and an SU offense that is second in the league in scoring averaging almost 80 points.
Virginia demonstrated an inside-outside offensive attack against the Yellow Jackets with forward Sam Hauser scoring a game-high 22-points including four treys, and big man Jay Huff notching 18, many on shots close to the basket.
That will be the challenge for the Syracuse zone, as UVA likes to control a deliberate tempo to find the best shot opportunities.
The Orange, meanwhile, figure to take more than the season-low 13 three-pointers attempted versus Virginia Tech against the Cavaliers defense. SU will look for more scoring from guards Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard, and built off the scoring blitz of Quincy Guerrier, Alan Griffin, and Marek Dolezaj who combined for 53 points in Saturday’s win.
This game figures to come down to the final minutes, and in a stunning finish a late dunk by Guerrier off a feed from Girard will cement Syracuse’s 61-58 upset win over Virginia.
Season Record 4-4
Another year. Another well-coached, disciplined Virginia team.
Tony Bennett has built a powerhouse with the Cavaliers, and despite an early loss to San Francisco to start the year, UVA’s only other loss this season was to then (and current) No. 1 Gonzaga.
And with the exception of Saturday’s 64-62 escape against Georgia Tech, Virginia has mostly dominated the ACC en route to a 6-0 conference record to date. In the five other games, the Cavaliers have won by an average of 10.5 points per game.
That has UVA at No. 9 in the KenPom rankings, with an 11th ranked offense and an 18th ranked defense. Contrast that to the Orange, who after two convincing wins, including a rout of No. 16 Virginia Tech over the weekend, has them up to No. 33 overall with KenPom.
Bennett’s teams have traditionally been a difficult matchup for SU’s 2-3 zone because of Virginia’s offensive discipline and excellent 3-point shooting. This version is no different. The Cavs as a team are shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc, while committing just 8.3 turnovers per game.
Particularly, 7-foot-1 Jay Huff could be an issue, as the senior is shooting 44.1 percent from downtown, and is averaging a career-high 13.3 points.
The ‘Hoos like to play slow, with their tempo ranked 357th in the KenPom rankings. Syracuse is more inclined to settle into a halfcourt set, playing with the 161st ranked tempo. That likely means this game will be played deliberately, with just too much offense from Virginia for the Orange to handle in a 61-56 loss for SU.