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Syracuse suffered an embarrassing 64-53 loss at the hands of Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Apart from Buddy Boeheim, no other SU starter scored more than nine points. Joe Girard III in particular struggled mightily, with his first bucket coming with 30 seconds left in the game. As the losses rack up, the odds of Syracuse making the NCAA Tournament continue to plummet.
Up next is a second game against Wake Forest. The first time these two teams played this season, Syracuse lost in overtime, scoring just one basket in the extra period. After the game, head coach Jim Boeheim attributed the loss to a failed inbounds play with seconds left in regulation that gave Wake Forest the opportunity to send the game to overtime with a wide-open dunk.
Here’s what our beat writers expect to happen when Syracuse (9-11, 3-6 Atlantic Coast) hosts Wake Forest (17-4, 6-3) in the Carrier Dome on Saturday night:
Andrew Crane (13-7)
Running out of time
Wake Forest 80, Syracuse 70
Wake Forest needed overtime to defeat the Orange when these two teams met three weeks ago, but I don’t anticipate the game being that close this time. Symir Torrence only logged five minutes then — not playing in the second half or overtime — meaning that Syracuse should be able to operate using a similar game plan without its reserve guard. But there are so many other issues facing this SU team that it’ll be difficult to mask all of them across 40 minutes. The Demon Deacons hold the ACC’s top-ranked defensive field goal percentage and second-best offensive field goal percentage, so look for them to pull away behind a combination of Alondes Williams and Isaiah Mucius — reflective of the 2-point and 3-point balance WFU holds — and hand the Orange their seventh loss in the past nine games.
Roshan Fernandez (11-9)
Moving up from here
Wake Forest 80, Syracuse 79
Syracuse was awfully close to rock bottom in its loss against Pittsburgh, so I think it’ll move up from here. The loss at Petersen Events Center was humiliating for SU, which scored a measly 53 points. The offense is capable of playing much better than it did, and it’s shown that in spurts throughout the season. In fact, SU was an inbounds pass away from upsetting Wake Forest during the two teams’ first matchup. I think this game will be much closer than expected, especially considering that the first game was decided in overtime, but I can’t pick the Orange after the way they played against the Panthers.
Gaurav Shetty (11-9)
Can Giannis play?
Wake Forest 82, Syracuse 70
NBA Champion and MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will be in attendance on Saturday when Syracuse plays Wake Forest. The “Greek Freak” may not witness much of a game, though, as the two teams have trended in opposite directions since Syracuse lost in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, earlier in January. The Demon Deacons are 4-1 since — with that loss coming against Duke — but have reeled off four straight resounding wins against Virginia, Georgia Tech, UNC and BC.
Williams dropped 25 points in the last meeting against SU and has continued to play like one of the best players in the ACC. Williams is the only player in the ACC topping 20 points per game, and he is a lock to give Syracuse trouble on Saturday. SU might be without Torrence again this weekend, which means Williams should have an easy night beating Girard and Buddy as that duo tires from extended minutes. Expect Williams to show out in front of Antetokounmpo, someone he might be playing against if he is drafted to the NBA next year.
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