What to watch for in Syracuse’s matchup against Virginia Tech

Elijah Hughes Va Tech
Jan 8, 2020: Syracuse Orange forward Elijah Hughes (33) looks to drive against Virginia Tech Hokies guard Wabissa Bede (3) during a 67-63 loss at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Syracuse travels south to play at Virginia Tech on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. (TV: ACCN). Here’s what to watch for in the game.

Can Syracuse pick up its first Quadrant 1 win?

If you’ve been following along with recent game previews, this subheading is mostly a copy and paste. If the NCAA Tournament were to select its 68 teams today, Syracuse, at 97th in NET, would not make the field. They are winless in Quadrant 1 games, and are still being weighed down by two Quadrant 3 losses (Colgate, Bryant). Q1 wins are critical at this point, and Saturday’s matchup against Virginia Tech represents yet another opportunity for the Orange to pick up its first Q1 win of the season. The Hokies are currently 52nd in NET, and a Q1 win is assigned to teams that are ranked from 1-75 win away games. SU had one of its best performances of the season back on Jan. 11 in a 82-72 win, and will need to do it again if the Orange wants to build an NCAA-worthy resume.

Can Jesse Edwards stay out of foul trouble?

When Jesse Edwards is on the floor, Syracuse is an effective team. In 32 minutes against North Carolina, he finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks. But Edwards also fouled out in the closing moments, continuing a string of five games where he’s had at least three fouls. That included four fouls in SU’s win over Va. Tech on Jan. 11. Syracuse needs its senior center on the floor, and that means he’s going to need to be careful manning the back line of the zone.

» Related: Transfers have struggled following Syracuse basketball stints

Can Syracuse get more production from Benny Williams?

It has been feast or famine for Benny Williams. Williams appeared headed toward a sophomore leap on Dec. 31 when his 16 points and 11 rebounds led SU to a win over Boston College. But that was not a harbinger for things to come. In the six games since, Williams has only had one game (on Jan. 16 against Miami) where he’s scored double digits and had more than five rebounds. In the five other games, he’s averaging just 2.8 ppg and 2.6 rpg. Syracuse’s struggles to get production from their wings has been well noted this season, and SU simply needs more from Williams if it wants a Q1 win.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.