Syracuse returns home to host NC State on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. (TV: ACCN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record: 2-1
Syracuse and NC State are both tied at 3-4 in the ACC heading into Sunday. As a result, this upcoming game will be critical for both teams as they head down the back end of conference play.
Despite their record, the Wolfpack lead the conference in steals per game (9.42) and boast the No. 2 shot blocker in the nation in Manny Bates (3.4 bpg). The Orange have a top defensive contributor of their own in Kadary Richmond, who is third in the conference in steals (1.9 per game). That stat is even more impressive considering Richmond is only averaging 21 minutes per game.
With Wolfpack leading scorer Devon Daniels out for the season due to a torn ACL, the key matchup in this game will be between sophomore forwards Quincy Guerrier and Bates.
Guerrier is the Orange leader in points (16.4 ppg) and rebounds (9.8 rpg), but struggled in an 81-58 rout against Virginia, with just 15 points and seven boards against Virginia’s big men. This will likely be the case against NC State as well with Bates being Guerrier’s primary defender.
The Orange will need to lean on their next best scorers, Alan Griffin and Buddy Boeheim. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has decided against using his bench, despite Buddy Boeheim’s struggles.
Buddy Boeheim currently leads the team in shots attempted and minutes played despite averaging career lows in field goal percentage (37.6) and 3-point percentage (27.5). Still, the loss of Daniels and his 16.5 ppg will be far too much for NC State to handle, as Syracuse wins this one 74-69.
Season Record 5-4
The loss of Devon Daniels cannot be overstated for the Wolfpack. Daniels led NC State in minutes (33.3) and points (16.5), and was also tied for the team lead in assists (3.1) and steals (1.7). Who will fill the scoring void? Certainly forwards DJ Funderburk (11.9 ppg) and Jericole Hellems (11.8) will have a role in that.
But mostly, it will be a collective effort for a team that is 62nd in the country in offensive efficiency according to KenPom, with high averages in field goal percentage (47.0) and 3-point shooting (37.1). Aside from Daniels, six other rotation players shoot better than 33 percent from beyond the arc.
Comparatively to Virginia, the 10th ranked defense in the country, the Orange will have an easier time scoring against the Wolfpack’s 84th ranked defense. During a four-game losing streak that NC State snapped against Wake Forest, the Pack was giving up 82.3 points per game including an eye-popping 105 in a 32 point loss at Florida State on Jan. 13.
I see Buddy Boeheim having a rebound game, and scoring around 18 points on more efficient shooting, and Alan Griffin putting together a near double-double in points and rebounds, and the Orange pulling away in the final five minutes to win 71-65.