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Syracuse is scheduled to tip off its season on Friday at 3 p.m. against Bryant. The Bulldogs are the first of SU’s six nonconference games this season, and the matchup is the Orange’s first with Bryant.
Here’s what our beat writers think will happen on Friday:
Fighting the rust
Syracuse 65, Bryant 53
After such an unusual offseason was punctuated by Syracuse’s 10-day pause before this game, two versions of the Orange could emerge against Bryant. SU will either be a group that’s rusty, with only one day of practice following the pause, or one that steamrolls the Bulldogs as it should with any lower-tier nonconference opponent.
It might take 10 or 15 minutes, but I think the Orange — behind Buddy Boeheim’s 3-point shooting, Joe Girard III’s continued development at point guard and the arrival of Alan Griffin from Illinois — will reflect the second group. Bryant’s original season-opener against Stony Brook was canceled, so the team will be experimenting against SU and will try to fill the gap left by Adam Grant’s team-leading 16.3 points per game.
Syracuse is far from a perfect team, and flaws will emerge Friday that the team will need to address, but the Bulldogs finished 7-11 in the Northeast Conference last year for a reason. That alone is enough to pick the Orange here.
And here we go
Syracuse 78, Bryant 56
Bryant is a very undersized team and won’t be able to match Syracuse on the frontline. The Bulldogs found some success last year but don’t have as many returning minutes in their starting five as the Orange. They don’t turnover opponents much, and they turn it over far too much to be successful against the zone.
It would be easy to say that the Orange will be rusty following a lengthy layoff due to COVID-19, but I’m not anticipating that. Syracuse jumps on Bryant early and takes a double-digit lead into halftime as Griffin announces himself as the Orange’s go-to option with an efficient 17-point performance.
Syracuse 71, Bryant 60
The Bulldogs are replacing two starters after they won the most games since 2014-15, but they still finished in the bottom half of the NEC. Bryant’s rotation doesn’t feature anyone over 6-foot-9. The team turned the ball over at the highest rate in its conference last year and struggled from behind the arc, shooting 32.1% collectively.
All signs point to a Syracuse blowout, but I anticipate that it will be closer than expected, especially in the first half. The Orange should have no problem pulling away, but the program’s recent pause could catch up to them and lead to some early jitters.
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