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A positive COVID-19 test within the program forced Syracuse (2-0) to play shorthanded Thursday in its 30-point win against Niagara, and they’ll be without starter Buddy Boeheim again for Saturday’s game against Rider.
The Broncs are playing their season-opening game following a 14-day program pause due to a player testing positive for COVID-19. They lost their top five scorers from 2019-20 to graduation or other programs as grad transfers. Now, Christian Ings — who averaged 4.9 points per game last year — is Rider’s leading returning scorer.
Here’s what our three beat writers predict will happen in the Orange’s third straight home game:
Andrew Crane (2-0)
Syracuse 78, Rider 54
Sure, this is Syracuse’s final tune-up before the opponents get significantly tougher, with an Atlantic Coastal/Big Ten game against No. 24 Rutgers looming Tuesday in Piscataway. But it’s also one the Orange can’t overlook. Buddy will miss SU’s next two games unless New York state adopts a quarantine period shorter than 14 days, and it might take him longer to recover his rhythm, head coach Jim Boeheim said Thursday. Experimenting to find rotation solutions remains a necessity for the team.
Kadary Richmond flashed potential against Niagara through 16 points and seven rebounds, and his continued emergence is vital to bridge the gap between Buddy’s absence and his return. Expect the Orange to cruise on Saturday, maybe with some unusual lineups at times, behind Quincy Guerrier pacing the offense once again.
Anthony Dabbundo (2-0)
Along for the ride
Syracuse 83, Rider 65
Syracuse gets the benefit of playing the season-openers of three teams, whether that’s an advantage at all. Rider enters the Carrier Dome on Saturday replacing lost talent from last year’s experienced squad that finished third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Trying to replace multiple graduated seniors in a pandemic won’t be easy early in the season, and Syracuse should take advantage with their talent edge all over the floor.
Guerrier will be tested more for rebounds in this game because the Broncs should be better on the glass than the Orange’s first two opponents. Guerrier still posts a third-straight double-double, and Syracuse cruises to another comfortable win without Buddy.
Syracuse enters the more difficult portion of its schedule at 3-0 — exactly what Boeheim would’ve wanted — but tougher opponents await.
Danny Emerman (2-0)
Rolling on to Rutgers
Syracuse 71, Rider 53
Buddy’s absence presents a good opportunity for Richmond to step up and earn more minutes, Boeheim said. He did just that against Niagara, posting 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks. Playing well again against Rider won’t win him a starting job in the backcourt — he still has to prove he can play against tougher competition — but it’ll be another game on his resume.
Richmond gives SU an explosiveness and defensive edge at the top of the zone that neither Buddy nor Joseph Girard III can provide. Expect Richmond to continue to impress on both ends against the severely overmatched Broncs that return just four players from last year.
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