How They Are Doing So Far:
Syracuse has done well since their losses to Old Dominion and Buffalo. However, that just includes wins over Arkansas State and St. Bonaventure. Those are games the Orange were obviously expected to win, but they did so in dominating fashion. However, outside of a late November victory over Ohio State there is nothing that impressive on the resume so far. Thus, Syracuse is still a bit of a mystery heading into ACC play, but we are about to learn a lot about what the Orange can do this season.
Last Time Out:
The Orange hosted St. Bonaventure on Saturday and absolutely crushed the Bonnies 81-48. The Orange got off to a quick start and were up 21 at the break and cruised from there. For the eighth time this season Tyus Battle led team in scoring. He totaled 21 points and was a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the floor. Elijah Hughes add 16 points and Buddy Boeheim scored a dozen off the bench. The Syracuse zone was in full force and forced 25 St. Bonaventure turnovers. The Orange also held the Bonnies to 35.6 percent from the floor and just 15.8 percent from the charity stripe.
Who To Watch:
Tyus Battle will not always be perfect from the floor, but he certainly has been consistent this season. On the year he is shooting 48.1 percent from the floor and the big 6-6 junior guard leads the team with 18.0 points per game. Frank Howard will likely join Battle in the starting backcourt when the Orange face Notre Dame. Howard missed the first four games of the season and is not scoring as much as he did last year when the point guard averaged 14.4 points per game, but Howard is a very good passer and defender and can do some scoring when needed.
Who Else To Watch:
Elijah Hughes and Oshae Brissett form a very dangerous frontcourt duo. In typical Syracuse fashion, they are both lanky forwards who can play good zone defense. And both are good scorers too. Hughes averages 14.8 points per game and shoots 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. Brissett averages 13.8 points per game and has not been nearly as consistent shooting from long range. However, he is at least a threat to hit the long ball on occasion. Brissett is also the best rebounder on the team and that is an area where Syracuse is always vulnerable.
Notre Dame is off to an 0-1 start in ACC play after their 81-66 loss at Virginia Tech on Tuesday. With mixed results in non-conference play, the Fighting Irish really need to win home games against other potential bubble teams like Syracuse. An 0-2 start could be too much for the Irish to overcome with dates against North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Duke coming up later this month. In order to beat Syracuse, Notre Dame must find a way to crack the zone defense and get open looks from outside. If TJ Gibbs and Rex Pflueger can continue to attack the basket effectively, the Irish should be able to make the Orange defense work and eventually that will pay off for Notre Dame.