Alright, let’s try this again.
After the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team got off to a bit of a rocky start on the season last week vs. Bryant, they’ll give it another go on Thursday against the Niagara Purple Eagles. This is the season opener for Niagara after their game against DII Gannon was cancelled. So welcome back, Greg Paulus!
Before this game tips off at 7 p.m. ET (and on your local RSN), we’re making some predictions for what exactly happens in this game and why it’s hopefully better than what we saw in the Bryant game…
Syracuse 79, Niagara 70
Something tells me this game will be much closer than it should be, just like the Bryant game. I think the loss of Sidibe due to injury impacts Syracuse a lot more than we realize. He won’t help on defending the three, but Niagara didn’t use the three-ball last year against the Orange to great effect. The Purple Eagles shot 22.2% from beyond the arc in the 2019 contest, and Sidibe’s interior defense is still better than any other center Syracuse will play for the foreseeable future. It should still be a Syracuse win, but don’t be surprised if the game is just as rocky as the Bryant game.
Syracuse 75, Niagara 58
With Niagara coming off their own COVID pause I think Syracuse should have an easier time in this one. Look for the Orange’s smaller line-up with Marek Dolezaj in the middle to push the tempo and get some open looks for Boeheim, Girard and Griffin in transition. I think we’ll see Jim Boeheim go nine deep here as he looks to find combinations which will work before the Orange take on Rutgers. This is a big opportunity for the group of Anselem, Braswell, Edwards and Richmond to showcase what they can bring to this team.
Syracuse 84, Niagara 58
With a few more practices under Syracuse’s belt since the Bryant game, I like the Orange to come out tonight, win by a wide margin and to cover the spread. Niagara returns everyone except James Towns from its team last year, a 12-20 squad overall. Syracuse even increased the practice difficulty by practicing around wet spots in the Dome last night so they should be extra prepared. Orange by 26.
Syracuse 80, Niagara 60
One thing that we confirmed vs. Bryant was that this Orange team can get scoring from a variety of places — perhaps more than was the case in recent seasons. So as long as the defensive shows some improvement, we should see that balanced shooting approach in action, with four players in double figures and perhaps Buddy Boeheim or Alan Griffin getting hot from outside. Niagara puts up a fight for a bit, and perhaps Marcus Hammond makes you nervous for a few. Still, this one’s a W for Syracuse.
Now it’s your turn…