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After a second half comeback from Georgetown, Syracuse dropped a second straight game and fell back to .500 for the third time this season. It appeared that the Orange would have two winnable games against Lehigh and then Cornell, but then at least four starters tested positive for COVID-19. Head coach Jim Boeheim said all players are vaccinated and received their booster, which helped reduce the effects of the virus, but the COVID-19 cases meant that the Orange had to go on a pause just like last year.
Out of the break, Syracuse (5-5, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) added Brown (8-5, 0-0 Ivy League) to its schedule. The Bears come to the Dome off of a COVID-19 pause of their own. This game will be Syracuse’s second-to-last nonconference game of the year, so it could be a final tuneup before the start of ACC play.
Here’s what our beat writers predict will happen against Brown on Monday at 6 p.m.:
Andrew Crane (4-6)
Shaking off the rust
Syracuse 65, Brown 55
This game features a team that hasn’t played in 16 days (Syracuse) and a team that hasn’t played in 17 days (Brown), and might turn into a game that’s won by whichever group has less rust than the other. It’s one of those nonconference games that the Orange shouldn’t have any problem winning, but last year, they won just one of three games after a postponement — with the one victory requiring a 43-point surge in the second half to erase what had escalated to a 20-point Notre Dame lead. In the two losses, they shot 36.7% and 30% from the field against Pittsburgh and Clemson, respectively.
But the Bears are an opponent that SU could struggle against, fail to find any shooting rhythm at first and still pull out a much-needed win. Look for a balanced offense to pace the Orange on Monday, with Jesse Edwards taking on a lead role given that Brown’s tallest player on its roster stands at just 6-foot-9.
Roshan Fernandez (5-5)
Back to work
Syracuse 70, Brown 57
Syracuse added Brown to its schedule to make up for what would’ve — or at least should’ve — been two guaranteed wins over Lehigh and Cornell. Those two games got canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Syracuse’s team, but unlike last season, players’ symptoms were mild and their return to practice seemed prompt (the Orange returned to practice on Dec. 23). Boeheim said last season that it took time for players like Joe Girard III and Buddy Boeheim to fully recover from COVID-19 and get back to 100%, but this year, he emphasized that having a fully vaccinated team helped ease his players’ symptoms. Look for SU to reestablish an offensive rhythm here when it returns to the office and gets back to work against Brown.
Gaurav Shetty (5-5)
Back to basics
Syracuse 80, Brown 68
Syracuse has not played at home since the double-overtime thriller against Indiana and hasn’t played a game since losing to Georgetown in Washington. The Orange would’ve had two presumably easy wins over Lehigh and Cornell, but due to positive COVID-19 tests on the Syracuse team, SU added a Dec. 27 game against Brown and rescheduled its game against Cornell for Dec. 29 due to Georgia Tech entering COVID-19 protocols. Syracuse has dropped games like this that they should win, like Colgate and Georgetown, so this game isn’t as much of a given. Even though Syracuse’s defense has been poor all year, I don’t see it being bad enough to give the Bears a chance of winning. The game against Brown should prove to be a simple tuneup out of a COVID-19 pause before ACC games start to pick up hard and fast.
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