Syracuse, playing without starting center Jesse Edwards for the first time this season, will try to extend its winning streak against Virginia Tech. Here’s what to watch for.
- Teams: Syracuse Orange (13-11, 7-6 ACC) v. Virginia Tech Hokies (14-10, 6-7)
- Date: Saturday, Feb. 12
- Game Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
- Network: ESPN2
Fearless Prediction: Virginia Tech 75, Syracuse 65
The Juice Online Season Record: 10-3 (ACC)
Saturday’s matchup between Virginia Tech and Syracuse features two teams on identical four-game win streaks.
That would normally be the headline for the game, but Syracuse received bad news on Thursday, when the team announced starting center Jesse Edwards will be out for the remainder of the season with a fractured left wrist. This is terrible news for a team that was heavily reliant on their starters for production.
Frank Anselem will replace Edwards, but he has played more than 20 minutes over once this season, and that was in SU’s most recent game, a 73-64 win over Boston College with Edwards in foul trouble. He is otherwise unproven in extended minutes.
I don’t know what to expect out of Syracuse as a result. Three of the four teams they’ve played during this win streak are in bottom half of the ACC standings now. The Orange has been scoring a lot during the streak, but is that an indicator that they figured out its defense or is it a byproduct of their competition? We will find out when they travel to Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech is a team that can score in bunches, and that’s been evident in its last four games in which its averaged 79 points per game. When the Hokies face a team that doesn’t play good defense and lets shooters get open, they can put up points in a hurry. Does that sound like any team you’ve seen play recently…?
VT pummeled Pitt in back-to-back games, coasting to easy victories despite only a five-point win on Feb. 5. In that game, the Hokies came out hot in the first half and then trailed off in the second.
They learned their lesson and played two full halves against Pitt on Monday in a 74-47 rout. This team has a (very) long shot of making the NCAA Tournament, and in order to do so they need wins like Saturday against Syracuse.
That’s actually the same story for Syracuse, but the news about Edwards puts a damper on their outlook for this game. I see Edwards’ absence causing just enough confusion on the defensive side of the floor and some crowded lanes on the offensive end. That will give VT the opportunities they need to win this game. Originally, with Edwards in the lineup I had predicted a Syracuse win. But without him, I am leaning towards the Hokies getting their fifth straight W.