‘Cuse Countdown Analysts Look at the Orange as it Faces Florida State
Our analysts dive deeper into a struggling Orange team that has yet to win in 2018. Can it get its first win of 2018 and their second ACC win of the season at Florida State?
Key to the Game: Control the Rebounding Game
The Orange has been solid in the rebounding department for the most part this season. Despite that, Syracuse has been out rebounded in two of its three consecutive losses, losing the battle on the glass to both Wake Forest and Notre Dame. Not much separates the Orange and the Seminoles when it comes to grabbing boards. Syracuse averages 40.2 RPG and FSU averages 39.8, placing them at 33rd and 37th in the nation respectively. If the Orange wants to end its losing skid, hustling for every rebound is key.
Prediction: Syracuse 68-64
Both of these teams come into this contest having lost multiple games in a row. Florida State is favored, and rightfully so, as the Orange has yet to prove it can win outside of the Carrier Dome. But SU is in need of a win and must prove it can be a team that can compete in the ACC. Head coach Jim Boeheim has to be fed up with the negativity, and will have his squad ready to do battle, and eventually win on the road.
Key to the Game: Get Tyus Battle Going
In Syracuse’s five losses this season, Tyus Battle is shooting just 17 percent from 3-point land. On the other hand, in 12 SU victories, Battle is hitting on 42 percent of his trifectas. Cleary when Battle hits his shots, it’s great news for Syracuse. The Orange needs to make a point to get him some good open looks early so he can get off to quality start. If Syracuse is going to upset the No. 23 Seminoles on the road, the Orange needs the sophomore guard to shoot well.
Prediction: Syracuse 68-63
To be honest, strap in because this team will frustrate on offense this season. However, the defense will continue to keep the Orange in games. I expect this game against the Seminoles to be no different. Florida State is riding a two-game losing streak, most recently falling to a similarly defensive-minded team, Louisville. Syracuse’s defense marks one of the best FSU will face, and that should keep the game close. If Syracuse can simply make some easy shots, the Orange can win this game. Syracuse lost by seven against the third ranked team in the country on the road while shooting just 38 percent from the field. Syracuse converting around the rim could be the difference to earn the Orange a much needed win against the 23rd ranked Seminoles in Tallahassee.
Key to the Game: Limit Florida State’s Three-Pointers
Florida State is one of the nation’s best offensive teams, averaging more than 80 points per game. The key to an Orange victory is SU’s ability to limit Florida State from beyond the arc. The ‘Noles knocked down 11 triples in their victory over No. 12 North Carolina earlier this month. Conversely, FSU managed just five three’s in its loss to Miami, a game in which the team scored more than eight points less than its season average. If Syracuse can match the Hurricanes’ performance, it can keep the game close against a ranked team on the road.
Prediction: Florida State 69-58
The Seminoles enter Saturday’s matchup with something to prove—after opening the season 11-1, the team has lost two of three to open ACC play. Three FSU players (Terrance Mann, Braian Angola-Rodas and Phil Cofer) average double figures, leading a ‘Noles offense than has reached the 90 point mark six times this season. That, on top of an expected crowd of nearly 10,000, poses a multitude of challenges to a reeling Syracuse team. As a result, Florida State should cruise to a win at home, outscoring an Orange offense ranked 287th in the country in points per game.
Key to the Game: Turn Defense Into Offense
Syracuse’s 2-3 zone will be tested once more in a matchup against a wildly talented Florida State offense (84 PPG) that features Terance Mann, Braian Angola-Rodas, and Phil Cofer (15.1 13.6, and 13 PPG, respectively). But the sharpshooting of the Seminoles is streaky at times. Poor shooting performances led to consecutive losses against Louisville and Miami, and the Orange can benefit from FSU’s shooting woes if their on-ball defense creates problems. In Florida State’s two most recent losses, their half court offense was sped up by opposing defenses, which led to ill-advised shots and turnovers. The Orange needs to capitalize on Seminoles’ offensive inconsistencies in order to make up for their own.
Prediction: Syracuse 72-69
Florida State and Syracuse both limp into this matchup with 1-3 ACC records. If the Orange wants any chance at tournament contention, it has to avoid its fourth straight conference loss. The length of Syracuse’s zone poses problems for the Seminoles, but I expect a breakout performance from the Orange offense. The ‘Noles are allowing conference opponents to shoot 45.1 percent from the field. After slogging through grind-it-out contests against Notre Dame and Virginia, this is a perfect opportunity for the ‘Cuse offense to rejuvenate itself. The Orange will return to their winning ways and pick up a much needed conference victory on the road.
Key to the Game: Avoid Isolation
Did you know Syracuse only had three total assists in the entire game against Virginia Tuesday night? I know UVA arguably has the toughest defense in the country, but three assists in 40 minutes is still just horrendous. SU simply has to change that against FSU, and that starts with the team leaders Frank Howard and Tyus Battle. The two guards need to stop settling for jump shots and focus more on making plays for others. In order to pull off the upset, Battle and Howard need to stop resorting to isolation plays and use their skills to help get role players like Matt Moyer and Paschal Chukwu more involved.
Prediction: Florida State 71-62
Once again, SU’s defense will keep this game close but I just haven’t seen enough from the Syracuse offense lately to pick them. I expect the Orange to come out aggressive in the first half and surprisingly take a lead into the halftime locker rooms. However, from there Florida State is going to ride the crowd to a second-half rally and make more plays on offense down the stretch. After winning 28 straight at home, the Seminoles are not going to drop two in a row in Tallahassee.
Key to the Game: Get Physical
With Tyus Battle standing at 6’6″ and Frank Howard next to him at 6’5″, Syracuse rarely has to worry about size at the guard position. Saturday, the Orange will be tested by a pair of Florida State guards, Braian Angola-Rodas and Terance Mann, who are both 6’6″. SU needs to be physical in a game where the usual size advantage of the Orange won’t be quite as powerful. The good news for the Orange: FSU makes only two-thirds of its free throws. Syracuse has to be willing to send the Seminoles to the line and make them earn a win.
Prediction: Florida State 73-69
Florida State’s 28-game home win streak was snapped Wednesday by Louisville, so expect to see an energized FSU squad that doesn’t want to lose a second straight game in its own building. The Syracuse defense will hold the Seminoles well below its average of almost 84 points per game, but the Orange offense has yet to show they can score enough to win ACC games. In the end, Florida State’s attack is too well balanced for SU to completely shut it down, and its defense is just good enough to slip by Syracuse at home.
Key to the Game: Focus and Motivation
Syracuse is looking to avoid losing four straight games for the first time since the 2015-2016 season. When the season is in crisis, you need your orchestrator to step up, and for the Orange, that’s Guard Frank Howard. The junior must set up his teammates and not turn the ball over (17 turnovers in the last three games). But, FSU is frustrated too, as it just lost its 28-game home winning streak to Louisville on Wednesday. It has started ACC play 1-3, largely attributed to the 55 turnovers in those four games. Whichever team pays more attention to details and shows more willingness to emerge from a skid will win this battle.
Prediction: Florida State 68-61
If SU fans are looking for a silver lining, the last time the ‘Noles lost at the Donald L. Tucker Center before the steak, they lost two in a row at home. Florida State’s incapability of holding onto the basketball should give Syracuse some easy buckets, which this struggling offense desperately needs. The problem is FSU brings a deeper bench, more dynamic athletes on offense, and can match up a couple seven footers, Ike Obiagu and Christ Koumadje, to neutralize Orange Center Paschal Chukwu. But hey, since we’re being optimistic, when SU previously lost four consecutive games, it made the Final Four that year.
Key to the Game: Defensive Rebounding
Florida State takes 3-point shots at the highest rate in the ACC, but it only makes about 37 percent of them, which ranks 86th in the NCAA. If Syracuse is to avoid its third straight loss, the front court will need to transfer some of its dominant offensive rebounding to the defensive glass. SU ranks in the top 20 of the NCAA in offensive rebounds per game (11.4), but slides to 141st on the defensive end. Limiting the Seminoles’ offensive opportunities will be crucial to the Orange’s success on Saturday.
Prediction: Florida State 74-66
Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett, and Frank Howard have carried the Orange on offense this season, but outside of those three, there’s been little help. As a result, SU ranks near the bottom of the country in points-per-game (69.5 ppg, 247th in the nation). That’s not going to cut it against a Seminoles defense that ranks inside Kenpom’s top 50 in defensive efficiency. Another player needs to step up if Syracuse hopes to pick up a much needed ACC win on the road.