Syracuse Orange v. NC State Wolfpack Prediction & Preview (3/10/21)

Jan 31, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) looks to pass the ball as North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Manny Bates (15) and guard Shakeel Moore (2) defend in the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse will try to add to its NCAA Tournament resume when it plays NC State in the second round of the ACC Championship on Wednesday, Mar. 10 at 12:00 p.m. (TV: ACCN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.

saugatSaugat Sen
Season Record: 6-2

Syracuse won both matchups against NC State this season, by 3 at home and then by 9 on the road for SU’s lone Quadrant 1 win of the year.

This game, played at a neutral site in Greensboro, will be a Q2 game for the Orange. (Q2 games are played when the opponent is ranked between 51-100 on neutral courts, and NC State is currently 66th in NET.)

In college basketball, it’s been hard to beat the same team three times in a season, but this might be one of the exceptions.

NC State shot 44 percent from the field both times against the Orange, but their 3-point shooting dropped from 42 percent at PNC Arena to 26 percent in the Carrier Dome. The key for the Wolfpack will be Thomas Allen, who was exceptional at PNC Arena, scoring 17 points while shooting 4-8 from outside.

For the Orange, Alan Griffin was the leading scorer both times against the Wolfpack, averaging 20.5 ppg. Buddy Boeheim also excelled against NC State, averaging 16.5 ppg on a combined 7-12 from downtown.

The Orange will get eight days between games, which is critical for a team that has been ailing as Kadary Richmond and Quincy Guerrier have been nursing injuries.

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has been reaching into his bench lately with Jesse Edwards, Richmond and Robert Braswell all contributing significant minutes in the last five games of the year, and that will be critical in the back-to-back days of championship season.

NC State has struggled to defend the outside shot against the Orange this year, allowing Syracuse to shoot 42.5 percent from beyond the arc in their two matchups. I see both Griffin and Buddy Boeheim leading the Orange once again, and Syracuse handing the Wolfpack a 75-64 loss as the Orange to move on and play No. 1 seed Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals.

» Related: Syracuse checks in at No. 9 in final regular season ACC Power Rankings

wesWes Cheng
Season Record 6-4

Syracuse’s resume heading into the ACC Tournament looks like this:

  • Q1: 1-6
  • Q2: 4-1
  • Q3: 7-1
  • Q4: 3-0

Meanwhile, here’s NC State’s record:

  • Q1: 1-6
  • Q2: 3-2
  • Q3: 4-0
  • Q4: 5-1

The two are remarkably the same, and but for Syracuse’s rally from down nine at half in their Jan. 31 matchup at the Carrier Dome, it would be NC State that was listed in Bracketology’s “First Four Out” instead of Syracuse.

Syracuse desperately in need of a win over NC State to keep its momentum going to stay in the conversation. A win over the Wolfpack would not guarantee an at-large bid, but depending on how things shake out with other teams on the bubble (pay close attention to Boise State, Utah State and Xavier, to name a few), it may be enough for the Orange to sneak in.

Of course, a win over the Wolfpack followed by a win over top-seeded Virginia would be enough to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament without any anxiety on Selection Sunday. According to Sports Betting Dime, the Orange is an ever so slight 2-point favorite in what is essentially a coin flip game, and that’s exactly how I see this playing out.

The two teams will play to a draw until the final minute, when an Alan Griffin 3-pointer puts the Orange ahead for good, as Syracuse keeps its NCAA Tournament hopes alive with a 75-73 win.

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