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Following Syracuse’s 83-57 bounce-back win against Miami on Tuesday, the Orange host Virginia Tech in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Syracuse is outside the NCAA Tournament field, according to projections by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, and the matchup could be SU’s first win over a team in the projected NCAA Tournament field.
Last season, SU and VT split the two regular season meetings, which were decided by four and two points, respectively.
Here’s what our beat writers think will happen when Virginia Tech (11-2, 5-1 Atlantic Coast) visits Syracuse (8-4, 2-3 ACC):
Andrew Crane (9-3)
Not good enough
Virginia Tech 77, Syracuse 72
Nearly everything clicked for Syracuse against Miami, and that resulted in another blowout win. Jesse Edwards played 23 strong minutes off the bench at center. Joe Girard III and Buddy Boeheim both scored more than 20 points in the same game for the first time this season. For a group that’s struggled to put together complete, 40-minute performances and maintain double-digit leads, defeating the Hurricanes in such fashion may have sparked a shift in SU’s season. But the next step for the Orange, and the only way to turn that spark into a flame, is to make that performance consistent.
Doing that against Virginia Tech will be a challenge. The Hokies had a bad loss earlier this season against Penn State, but they’ve lost just once since — by two points to Louisville — and knocked off then-No. 2 Villanova in their second game. They’re one of the top ACC teams for a reason.
Speeding the game up will be necessary, as Virginia Tech ranks in the bottom-third of the country for average possession length (17.7), per KenPom. If SU manages to pull the upset, it’d be the resume-building win the Orange have lacked so far. But I can’t see that happening against the Hokies.
Anthony Dabbundo (10-2)
Virginia Tech 73, Syracuse 71
The Orange’s NCAA Tournament resume is currently lacking a signature win. SU’s best win came against Miami, a team that is unlikely to make the Tournament. Saturday isn’t a must-win, but the Orange need to start winning games like this if they want to play in the postseason. And the Hokies are the first of two major chances to pick up a Q1 win — the second being Monday’s road trip to Virginia.
The Hokies have been remarkably consistent this season under second-year head coach Mike Young. They play a slow tempo and shoot a lot of 3s. If the Hokies are firing from beyond the arc, and if Keve Aluma is able to dominate the glass, it’s easy to see the Hokies running away with this game. However, Girard and Boeheim played their best all-around games since returning from their battles with COVID-19, and that projects well for Syracuse. The Orange keep this game close but falter on the game’s final possession and miss another chance for a key win.
Danny Emerman (8-4)
Syracuse 73, Virginia Tech 72
My beat partners aren’t putting enough stock in Tuesday’s win against Miami. The way Syracuse handled the Hurricanes, a team that competed against everyone it’s faced this season, was impressive. Getting all three of Girard, Boeheim and Kadary Richmond was key, and it’ll continue to be during every game going forward. Quincy Guerrier’s always going to be steady, Marek Dolezaj’s always going to make plays and defend with toughness and acuity, but Syracuse can win just about any game if all three of its guards are humming.
The big revelation from the Miami game was Edwards. If he can keep that momentum going against Virginia Tech, a solid offensive rebounding team, Syracuse should have a shot to outduel a very good, if not great, Hokies team. But it all starts with Girard, Boeheim and Richmond. Carrying Tuesday’s mojo into Saturday can vault the Orange to a victory.
Syracuse wins a thriller, gets to .500 in ACC play and starts raking in Top 25 votes.
Published on January 22, 2021 at 3:04 pm