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Syracuse travels to Miami for a Wednesday night showdown between two of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best-ranked offenses and worst-ranked defenses. The Orange are coming off a five-point defeat to Virginia where SU allowed 74 points to the Cavaliers.
After the game, both Buddy Boeheim and head coach Jim Boeheim said that the loss was because of the Orange’s defense. Scoring 69 points against UVA should’ve been enough to win had the defense played better, both said.
SU will play the first of two consecutive road games in Coral Gables before it travels to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest on Saturday. Miami will look to extend its win-streak to eight games.
Here’s what our beat writers predict will happen in Syracuse’s (7-6, 1-1 ACC) third conference game of the season:
Andrew Crane (7-6)
Out of control
Miami 87, Syracuse 84
These are two teams trending in opposite directions right now, both with porous defenses but one with a more consistent offense than the other. Miami’s offense has clicked all season at a rate not seen before under head coach Jim Larrañaga, and the Hurricanes have won seven consecutive games while topping 90 points in their last two conference games. Most of Miami’s offense runs through its three guards — Isaiah Wong (16.5 points per game), Kameron McGusty (18.3) and Charlie Moore (11.1) — so if the Orange can find ways to limit their effectiveness, forcing the ball inside but stopping entrance passes into the high post, they could have a winning formula. But it’s difficult to pick SU in any of these games against a team with a streaking offense and passable defense because of how the Orange’s zone has struggled this year. I think they’ll fall just short in a high-scoring game because Syracuse will have one or two more defensive miscues leading to its fourth loss in the last six games.
Roshan Fernandez (7-6)
Miami 83, Syracuse 80
Miami is off to an 11-3 start after back-to-back-to-back losing seasons, and the Hurricanes’ offense means business. On the other hand, their defense is outside the KenPom top 200 and struggling, much like Syracuse’s. On Monday, Boeheim described the Orange defense as “horrendous” and added that it is “100% responsible for our record.” The even more disturbing part was when Boeheim went on to say that he’s done almost everything he can think of to fix it, yet the unit still needs drastic improvement. He accepted the blame for his players’ countless defensive mistakes and bad positioning, stating bluntly: “I’m the coach (and) I’m responsible for that.” But Syracuse just doesn’t seem to have the answer to these defensive issues. Maybe it’ll find solutions later in the season, but for now, Miami’s offense will outscore Syracuse’s offense in a battle where the defenses continue to go missing.
Gaurav Shetty (7-6)
Miami bringin’ heat for real
Miami 92, Syracuse 85
The one thing I’m most certain about in this game is that there won’t be a lot of good defense on show. Neither team ranks inside KenPom’s top 150 for defensive efficiency rating. Miami’s offense enters this game red hot on a seven-game win streak where the Hurricanes just hung 90 on two ACC opponents. Syracuse, on the other hand, struggled to slow down a poor UVA offense or find a way through the Cavaliers’ defense. This game will likely come down to a battle of the guards. Wong and McGusty provide a large amount of the Canes scoring and the same goes for Buddy and Joe Girard III. Girard notably struggled against UVA, scoring just three points as Symir Torrence provided a more efficient performance. If Syracuse wants to win this game, both Buddy and Girard will need to score in bunches, or the Orange defense will have to step up in a big way. It’s hard to bank on the latter, but in this game, I expect Wong and McGusty to be the more productive backcourt duo.
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