‘Cuse Countdown Analysts Look at SU’s Chance to Rebound Against Notre Dame

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Saturday, Jan 06, 2018 at 11:15 am by Sports Editor

Our analysts give their keys and predictions as they take a look at whether SU Men’s Basketball can bounce back to beat ACC rival Notre Dame after a difficult loss to Wake Forest.

Mike Adzima

Key to the Game: Take Advantage of Notre Dame’s Depleted Offense

The Irish comes into the Carrier Dome without two of its veteran leaders and top scorers in Seniors Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson. Farrell, a guard is averaging 15.9 PPG this season, but has been ruled out with an ankle injury. And big man Colson is out indefinitely after undergoing foot surgery. The senior had been averaging 21.4 PPG and 10.4 RPG before his injury. With two of their scoring machines out of the lineup, the Irish offense is thin. If the Orange defense can rally from a poor performance at Wake Forest and take advantage of the Irish’s depleted offense, Syracuse could cruise to victory.

Prediction: Syracuse 62-59

With Colson and Farrell out for the Irish, and the Orange offense having a lackluster season, it’s safe to say this game will be relatively low scoring. If the Syracuse defense can bounce back and put on a powerful performance like it did against Virginia Tech, that should give the Orange enough to barely push past the Irish.


Jackson Ajello

Key to the Game: Rebounds

Against Wake Forest, Syracuse failed to make the hustle plays on the boards like it did against Virginia Tech. In this matchup with Notre Dame the Orange should take advantage of the glass. The Irish will be without Preseason All-American Bonzie Colson, who averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds per game before getting breaking his foot. Colson, a senior forward, led the Irish in points and, most notably, rebounds. If Syracuse can control the boards, the Orange can make up for offensive deficiencies and get easy looks at the rim.

Prediction: Syracuse 71-62

Even without Colson and Matt Farrell, the Irish still has shooters to space the floor. So far this season, Notre Dame is the second best 3-point shooting team in the ACC (40%). Be that as it may, Syracuse already took down the best 3-point shooting team in the conference in Virginia Tech. Despite what people say about dangerous three-point shooting teams against SU, when executed correctly, the zone historically forces deep, contested shots. Plus, expect the Orange to control the boards with Colson out, limiting the Irish’s second chance points. With Syracuse controlling the glass and a recharged zone at home I expect the Orange to get back on track against the injured Irish. Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson are simply irreplaceable for Notre Dame as the Irish will miss the teams leaders in points, rebounds, and assists.


Cooper Boardman

Key to the Game: Tyus Battle

The key to Syracuse’s success, both in this game and throughout its 2017-18 campaign, is Tyus Battle. The sophomore guard managed just 13 points and committed five turnovers in the loss at Wake Forest. And while strong performances from Frank Howard (23 points at WF) and Oshae Brissett (16 points at WF) are important for SU, the team has no chance to play with ACC-leading Notre Dame without a significant offensive output from Battle.

Prediction: Notre Dame 74-67

Notre Dame enters Saturday’s matchup with Syracuse hobbling; the Irish will be without the services of Preseason ACC Player of the Year Bonzie Colson (left foot fracture) and Senior Guard Matt Farrell (ankle). But ND proved it could play without its two leaders on Wednesday, as four players scored in double figures in a rout of NC State. Expect the Irish to replicate that performance with a scoring-by-committee style offense against an SU team that allowed Wake Forest to shoot nearly 45 percent from the field in its last loss.


AJ Fabbri

Key to the Game: Dominate the Boards

Rebounding has been the pivotal statistic in both Notre Dame and Syracuse’s seasons thus far. The Irish was out-rebounded in all three of its losses. ‘Cuse has been one of the best rebounding teams in the country (T-16th nationally), but Wake Forest tallied nine more rebounds than the Orange last game. With Notre Dame’s leading rebounder Bonzie Colson sidelined with a foot injury, it is imperative that Syracuse limit the Irish’s offensive rebounding, while attacking their own missed shots on offense. Notre Dame boasts a talented back court, but Syracuse will have to out-hustle the Irish in this one.

Prediction: Syracuse 68-64

Notre Dame was bitten by the injury bug in the past few weeks. In addition to Notre Dame’s leading scorer and rebounder Bonzie Colson being sidelined, the Irish’s second leading scorer Matt Farrell has been labeled doubtful for the game after an apparent ankle sprain. This will allow the Orange to key in on Notre Dame’s secondary scoring options like Rex Pflueger, T.J. Gibbs, and D.J. Harvey who combined for 55 of the team’s 88 points in a win over NC State. ‘Cuse will return to its winning ways if it can hold Mike Brey’s Irish to under 70 points.


Tim Leonard

Key to the Game: Ball Movement

While the SU defense has continued to play strong in the early part of the conference schedule, the same can’t be said about the Syracuse offense. The Orange has been stagnant and methodical for over two weeks now, forcing them to settle for jump shots on countless possessions each time out. To avoid another offensive dud, SU needs to spread the ball around and force the defense to move more. With more passing, Syracuse will get away from isolation plays and be tougher to defend. The ball movement wasn’t there against Wake Forest and Jim Boeheim’s bunch paid the price. If it’s not there against a more talented Notre Dame defense, this one could get ugly.

Prediction: Notre Dame 67-58

Notre Dame may not have Bonzie Colson or Matt Farrell in this one, but they still have more offensive weapons than a fully-stocked SU roster. Barring a complete offensive turnaround or a career-night from Tyus Battle, I don’t see the Orange getting a bounce-back victory. The Fighting Irish is going to ride the momentum from a convincing win over NC State and drop SU to 1-2 in ACC play.


Karl Moeglein

Key to the Game: Force Notre Dame to Make Mistakes

Mike Brey-coached Notre Dame teams have historically been as close to mistake free as you will see in college basketball. This year’s team is no different. The Fighting Irish are top-5 nationally in limiting both turnovers and personal fouls. While Notre Dame turns the ball over less than 10 times a game, SU leads the ACC in steals, averaging 8.5 a game. The Orange needs to force turnovers to gain extra possessions and shift the momentum when they inevitably go cold shooting the ball. Another way the ‘Cuse can find offense success when their shots are falling is by driving and forcing fouls. SU needs to take advantage of its size advantage at guard to force the issue against ND.

Prediction: Syracuse 71-65

Notre Dame is missing the Preseason ACC Player of the Year after Bonzie Colson broke his foot. While the forward’s offensive production will be missed by the Fighting Irish, it is the loss of his rebounding that will lead to a Syracuse victory. Colson ranked third in the ACC in rebounding and Notre Dame is still 10th in the ACC in on the glass. ND picked up bad non-conference losses because they were beaten on the boards by Ball State and Indiana. SU will ride a victory on the stat sheet to a win in the Dome against Notre Dame.


Corey Spector

Key to the Game: Pay Close Attention to the Tape

Following Syracuse’s disappointing loss to Wake Forest, Jim Boeheim and crew take on a familiar ACC foe without its two familiar leaders.  Notre Dame Forward Bonzie Colson and Guard Matt Farrell are out due to injuries, so Irish Head Coach Mike Brey will implement a next-man-up mentality.  After Farrell exited with a sprained left ankle early in the second half against NC State, Notre Dame alarmingly outscored the Wolfpack 55-32.  The Orange must prepare for the new top dogs of this team, DJ Harvey, TJ Gibbs and Rex Pflueger, who combined for 55 points against NC State.  Hopefully SU is alert in the film room, and center Paschal Chukwu brings his goggles.

Prediction: Syracuse 69-65

The Orange could use a quality win, and even though this ND team is not the same quality as recent squads, the Irish does possess an impressive win over No. 6 Wichita State.  Due to the Carrier Dome crowd, the supposed difficult travel from Indiana to Central New York, the Irish’s shorthanded roster, the bitter cold and incoming snow, this may be more of a “feel” selection than a statistical one.  If Syracuse highlights why Notre Dame misses their two big stars and gets timely buckets down the stretch, expect the Orange to pull one out.


Chris Venzon

Key to the Game: Syracuse’s Perimeter Defense

Notre Dame excels at shooting from the outside. The Orange, meanwhile, finds itself in trouble when it doesn’t defend the 3-point line well. In each of Syracuse’s losses this season, their opponents have drained more than 35 percent of their shots from deep and made seven or more long balls each contest. Ominously for the Orange, Notre Dame makes more than 40 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc (30th nationally), and averages nearly eight and a half made threes per game. If Syracuse expects to beat Notre Dame, ‘Cuse must limit Notre Dame’s opportunities from deep.

Prediction: Syracuse 71-67

Assuming Syracuse can defend Notre Dame’s shooting, expect the Orange to win by forcing turnovers. The Fighting Irish have been stingy with the ball on offense. They rank third in country in turnovers per game. However, Syracuse averages close to nine steals per game, top-25 in the NCAA. Something has to give. SU’s 2-3 zone should give Notre Dame’s injured lineup trouble early in the game, enough to build a lead the Orange can hold onto late.