Can the Orange stay at the top of the ACC?
A modest two-game winning streak for the Syracuse Orange (7-5) men’s basketball team has fans starting to turn back to Bracketology studies. Syracuse hosts the Virginia Cavaliers (7-5) on New Year’s Day at 6:00 pm eastern as the ACC rivals look to build some momentum to start 2022.
So before these teams face off for the first time since last year’s ACC Tournament thriller we’ll tell you what we think will happen tonight. And if you’re betting minded, perhaps you’ll find some appealing odds for the game over at DraftKings (odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details).
Syracuse 64, Virginia 59
This is going to be an interesting challenge for the Orange. Virginia lost a lot of shooting from last year’s roster but they are still one of the best defensive teams in the country. Can Syracuse remain patient against the physical defense and use ball-movement to find good shots? I think it’ll be another up and down game for the Orange offense as they have good minutes followed by a stretch of isolation ball. Cole Swider’s recent shooting success could be the difference in this one.
Virginia 62, Syracuse 60
Given Virginia’s pace of play, expect this to be a long possession and low scoring game. Because of that, I think the Cavaliers will dictate pace and control this game to the tune of a narrow victory. Syracuse will have trouble handling the pressure from Virginia’s good but not great packline defense. Plus, the Orange zone hasn’t been up to standard this season. Virginia muck’s it up just enough to edge Syracuse.
Syracuse 59, Virginia 57
This is a typical battle of strength vs. strength with Syracuse’s offense taking on Virginia’s defense. Fortunately for the Orange, the Cavaliers aren’t in the best position to take advantage of Syracuse’s weaknesses. Virginia has made the third-fewest three-pointers in the ACC and the second-fewest rebounds per game. What might help Syracuse the most is that Virginia is forcing the fifth-fewest turnovers in the ACC, so ball security might be actually okay for the Orange. Virginia doesn’t have the offense to take advantage of the Syracuse mistakes, which just might make the difference.