Syracuse Basketball Looks to Keep Momentum in the Dome Against Boston College
Syracuse Men’s Basketball (13-6, 2-4 ACC) is looking to maintain positive momentum going into its first matchup of the season against a Boston College (13-7, 3-4 ACC) squad that has surprised some this season with wins against Duke and Florida State. The Orange is coming off its first win since New Year’s Eve and a week’s rest, and the Eagles have struggled on the road this season. This is the 72nd time these two teams have met, with Syracuse holding the edge 46-25 all-time with wins in five of the last six matchups. The Orange look to go six of seven on Wednesday at 7 p.m., and our analysts tell you if Jim Boeheim’s squad can get it done.
Key to the Game: Don’t Play Down to Your Opponents
Let’s face it, that win against Pitt was sloppy. When facing an evenly matched opponent like Boston College, the key for Syracuse is to establish its style of basketball early on. Set the tone and force the Eagles to work around the 2-3 zone. Both of these teams average around 13 turnovers per game, but if the Orange can capitalize off of BC’s turnovers and not make sloppy plays of its own, there should not be much trouble in getting its second straight win.
Prediction: Syracuse 65-61
Not much separates these two teams, so expect this game to be a close one throughout. Boston College has beaten Florida State and Wake Forest, both teams that Syracuse lost to this season, but those wins for BC were on its home floor. The Dome Court Advantage is going to be huge for the Orange in this game. If the 2-3 zone is run effectively and Syracuse can force turnovers, it should pull out the win in a close one.
Key to the Game: Contain BC’s Duo
Against BC, Syracuse needs to contain Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman. So far this season, Robinson and Bowman have accounted for 55 percent of the Eagles offense. Last season, Syracuse went 1-1 against Boston College. In the road loss, SU allowed BC’s duo to combine for 52 points on 69 percent shooting. Meanwhile, when Syracuse dominated the Eagles at the Dome in the two schools’ second game last season, the Orange shut down the tandem. In the second go around, Robinson and Bowman combined to score 12 points on just 20 percent shooting. By containing the two, SU went from allowing 96 points to BC, to holding the Eagles to its season low of 53 points.
Prediction: Syracuse 67-59
Syracuse is going to be in a lot of close games this season because the defense will keep the team in it, but the offense won’t allow the team to pull away. This narrative will continue until Syracuse displays consistency on offense. If Syracuse shoots well this game is a blowout, but I bet the Orange win a relatively close game instead. But, by locking in on Robinson and Bowman, the Orange can win another defensive struggle. Strap in, Syracuse is in for another battle at the Dome.
Key to the Game: Control the Boards
Syracuse has been outrebounded in three of its last four losses, but in its victory over Pitt, SU pulled down 30 boards- two more than the Panthers. On the Boston College side, the Eagles were dominated on the boards by North Carolina and Florida State (outrebounded by double digits in both games). If the Orange can exploit this, it will lead to more offensive opportunities.
Prediction: Syracuse 67-62
This is a huge game for both teams, as each jockeys for position in a crowded middle of the pack in the ACC. Syracuse gets the luxury of playing inside the Carrier Dome, where it is 11-2 this season. And after a four game losing streak, SU has its confidence back after a win over Pitt, in which three players notched double figures. That, coupled with the fact the Orange is coming off its bye week, means ‘Cuse will pick up its 14th victory of the season.
Key to the Game: Defend the Three-Point Line
While the defense has been the Syracuse’s most effective weapon this season, it showed some weaknesses in its two most recent games. In the double-overtime loss to Florida State, the Seminoles hit 11 three point shots. And even though the Orange surrendered just 45 points to Pitt, ‘Cuse allowed Panther freshman Parker Stewart to bury seven shots from beyond the arc. Boston College hit 14 threes in its upset over Duke earlier this year, and tallied 12 on the road against North Carolina. BC sharpshooter Jerome Robinson is shooting 45 percent from deep, and can cause some serious problems for the 2-3 zone. The rotations within the zone must be sharp in order to close out on Eagle shooters. If the Orange can protect the three-point line, it will limit BC’s offensive production.
Prediction: Syracuse 68-64
Boston College features a sneakily dangerous duo in Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman. Robinson leads the Eagles in scoring, averaging 18.2 PPG, while Bowman has registered double figure scoring in all but one game so far this year. However, the Eagles are winless on the road in ACC play this year, and Jim Boeheim has had a full week to finetune his squad’s offensive inconsistencies. I expect the bye week to rejuvenate the Orange, as fatigue may have been the catalyst for ‘Cuse’s poor offensive outing against Pitt. Syracuse will pick up the win Wednesday night as they cruise towards the softer part of their conference schedule.
Key to the Game: Protect the Arc
Boston College won’t be able to beat Syracuse underneath but it could burn the Orange from the outside. BC guards Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson are both in the top six in the ACC in three pointers made. Last week, Pittsburgh’s Parker Stewart became the third guard this season to knock down seven triples in one game against Syracuse. Bowman and Robinson have the ability to do the same thing and SU can’t let either of them get hot.
Prediction: Syracuse 68-64
Boston College is much improved from last year. The backcourt combination of Bowman and Robinson is one of the best in the entire conference. However, the Eagles still don’t have the size to keep the Orange off the boards. Paschal Chukwu, Matt Moyer, and Oshae Brissett are going to have a field day down-low. This one will be close the entire way but the rebounding advantage and home crowd will eventually propel Syracuse to a much-needed victory.
Key to the Game: Let’s Get Physical
Boston College is one of the few teams in the ACC with as little depth as Syracuse. Last Sunday against Louisville, the Eagles had four players play more than 30 minutes. The Orange need to force Boston College to make a choice by driving hard and not settling for jumpers and floaters. If they can be aggressive, BC will need to either foul or give SU room to score. If the Eagles get in foul trouble, they don’t have the depth to stay in the game, but if they let the Orange get easy buckets, the SU defense is strong enough to pull out the victory.
Prediction: Syracuse 65-62
This game may look like a battle of offensively minded guards, but it will be decided by the defensive strength of each squad. The Orange have a disruptive defense that leads the ACC in steals and is second in blocks. Boston College is turnover prone, and is last in the ACC in steals. While both teams will be able to score, Syracuse’s ability to create extra possessions through defensive pressure will propel the Orange to its second straight win.
Key to the Game: Defend the Three Point Line
Boston College is in the middle of the pack in the ACC in terms of three-point shooting percentage, but the volume of downtown shots is high, as the Eagles have made the most threes in the conference. Syracuse has played poorly against elite three-point shooters before. Earlier against Maryland, guard Kevin Huerter made seven of nine shots from behind the arc and Pitt’s Parker Stewart connected on seven three-pointers last week. When Boston College upset, at that time, #1 Duke in early December, the team made 15 threes. The zone allows for shooters to score from deep, so the two guards at the top of the zone may have to extend their defense a bit further in this contest.
Prediction: Boston College: 70-65
This may be one of the tougher projections all season for a Syracuse basketball game, largely in part because BC defeated Duke by five points but lost by 30 to UNC at Chapel Hill. The Eagles play well at home but their play on the road has been inconsistent. However, Boston College rosters two players, Jordan Chatman and Jerome Robinson, who shoot over 43% from long range, and Ky Bowman, who exposed the Orange last season with a career high 30 points, including seven threes. The Eagles are more versatile on offense and can be trusted down the stretch of games, a distinction that cannot be said about ‘Cuse. Just like it happened in Philadelphia on Sunday, expect that same mascot to soar on Wednesday.
Key to the Game: Share the Basketball
The most noticeable flaw in the Orange’s offense this season has been its lack of rhythm. Syracuse comes into the matchup with Boston College ranked 328th in the NCAA in assists per game. Too often, ‘Cuse sits back and waits for Tyus Battle to create opportunities. Battle has the highest usage percentage on the team (27.7). This is a problem against the Eagles. Boston College’s excellent three-point shooting (4th in the ACC) is going to give the 2-3 zone fits, so it will be up to Syracuse’s offense to pick up the slack and score more than usual. For that to happen, SU must get more players involved when they have possession.
Prediction: Boston College 69-63
Boston College possesses the exact tools to dismantle Syracuse’s defense: veteran guards with shooting range. Both Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson are averaging 16+ points per game as the de facto leaders of the team. To beat BC, Tyus Battle and Frank Howard will either have to outscore Bowman and Robinson or shut them down. Based on past results, neither result appears feasible.