TV: The ACC Network
Losers of four consecutive games, Virginia Tech will face a very tough Syracuse team in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night. The Orange are 15-8 on the season, with a 5-5 record in conference play. They are currently projected as a #12 seed in the NCAA Tournament by Joe Lunardi.
Though Syracuse got off to a tough start in league play, they have won five of their last six games. They are playing their best basketball of the season right now, so this is somewhat unfortunate timing for Virginia Tech.
Here’s how Syracuse looks in the efficiency ratings…
Offensive Efficiency: #107
Defensive Efficiency: #68
Offensive Rebound Rate: #47
Total Rebound Rate: #191
Turnovers per Possession: #107
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: #65
Syracuse doesn’t rebound it particularly well, and they rank outside the top 100 in offensive efficiency. On paper, this is Virginia Tech’s best matchup since they defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Here’s how the Hokies stack up…
Offensive Efficiency: #118
Defensive Efficiency: #145
Offensive Rebound Rate: #118
Total Rebound Rate: #172
Turnovers per Possession: #165
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: #157
Though the Hokies still lag behind in most categories, they are a better rebounding team from a percentage standpoint, and the offensive numbers aren’t much different at all.
Still, it’s hard to ignore what Syracuse has done in ACC play since Jim Boeheim returned from his suspension. After starting 0-4 in conference play, the Orange have won five of their last six games. Here are the results…
vs. Boston College: 62-40 W
at Wake Forest: 83-55 W
at Duke: 64-62 W
at UVA: 73-65 L
vs. Notre Dame: 81-66 W
vs. Georgia Tech: 60-57 W
They are one of the hottest teams in the country right now.
Syracuse is one of the few teams in the country to use the exact same starting lineup in every game this season.
G Trevor Cooney (6-4, 195, r-Sr.): 13.7 ppg, very deep range from the outside
G Michael Gbinije (6-7, 200, r-Sr.): 17.2 ppg, 103 assists, 56 steals
F Malachi Richardson (6-6, 205, Fr.): 13.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Tyler Roberson (6-8, 226, Jr.): 9.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg
C DaJuan Coleman (6-9, 268, Sr.): 5.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Syracuse is an experienced team for the most part, and the Hokies and the Orange played two games down to the wire last year…
January 3: 68-66 L in Blacksburg
February 3: 72-70 in Syracuse
In Blacksburg, a last-second three-point attempt by Malik Mueller was just off, which denied Tech the victory. The Hokies led nearly the entire game at Syracuse, but the Orange threw a press on the Hokies down the stretch, forced six turnovers in the last four minutes, and were able to rally late for a close victory thanks to a last-second shot by Gbinije.
As usual, Syracuse will throw their vaunted 2-3 zone against the Hokies. Tech did a good job against the zone last season, and they’ll have to have another impressive performance this year. However, the main task is stopping the Orange from scoring. Tech’s defense has been extremely poor this year, and that trend needs to be reversed.