Cincinnati vs Syracuse: There May Be Blood


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I’m truly upset that the Bearcats won’t have an opportunity to knock Syracuse out of the ranks of the unbeaten tomorrow night. Even more so, with Notre Dame having the pleasure of taking  them down yesterday, the Orange will no longer be the #1 team in the country. But don’t think for a second that this game will not be as intense as ever. You can bet Jim Boeheim is mighty pissed that Syracuse lost in the way they did and Mick Cronin is none to happy with the way his squad played in Morgantown either. I mean, when your team gives away free points with fouls, turnovers, and stupid plays in freaking overtime, you wouldn’t be doing cartwheels either.

With the added motivation from the two team’s most recent performances combined with a rocking 5/3rd Arena with whiteout conditions in effect, it could be World War III tomorrow night.

Key Numbers

The Syracuse Orange have been straight abusing teams this season primarily because they move the ball well, get contributions from a lot of players, and score in bunches. Cuse leads the Big East in field goal percentage (48%) and points per game (79). A big reason for this is their ability to get open looks and hit them, which is indicated in their 17 assists per game (9th nationally) and the fact that seven Orangemen average more than 7 points per game. Despite all of this offense, the Orange turn the ball over a ton: 11 per game which feeds right into Cincinnati’s ability to force the opponent to make errors. But Syracuse is just as dangerous at this and actually leads the country in steals with 10.5 per game. Some of this could be inflated by the fact that teams push the envelope and create high-risk, high-reward situations in an attempt to close the gap with Syracuse. Regardless of the reason, the Bearcats will have to be extra careful with the ball tomorrow night.

Players to Watch

– Dion Waiters: A strong candidate for 6th Man of the Year, the sophomore averages just under 13 points per game OFF THE BENCH. That’s just not even fair. He’s a sparkplug that surprises teams when he comes into the game because opposing coaches struggle to find a matchup to slow him down much like UC’s Sean Kilpatrick did last season. I expect Mick Cronin to probably tab JaQuon Parker with the task of slowing him down.

– Kris Joseph: Basically the same situation as last week as this offense features strong power forwards to do the nasty work under the buck. Joseph is more of a 4 than a 5 when it comes to size but he plays very aggressively around the rim. He leads the team in points per game and defensive rebounds per game. It’ll probably be up to Justin Jackson to slow him down as Yancy Gates/Cheikh Mbodj will be guarding the next Cuse big man.

– C.J. Fair: The 7-footer Fab Melo will not be available on Monday since he’s battling some academic issues. That’s good, no GREAT, news for the Cats as he has been owning the boards this season. But because of his absence, Fair has assumed a starting role for the Orange despite averaging the 2nd most minutes as well as rebounds per game on the team. Like I mentioned, it’ll be up to Gates and Mbodj to contain him.

Final Thoughts and Prediction

Syracuse is by far the most difficult opponent to date Cincinnati will face. They have a very dangerous offense which benefits them on the defensive side by forcing opponents to make mistakes in order to keep up. It doesn’t help that the Orange also have the length and speed to force easy turnovers. The Bearcats are one of the best teams in the country in doing just what Cuse does without the ball in their hands. UC will have the backing of 13,000 cheering them on making life just that much harder on the Orange but it will be up to the team to play mistake-free ball and don’t give them extra possessions. Unfortunately, I think Cincinnati drops this game as Syracuse is just too good to be honest.

Syracuse: 79

Cincinnati: 70