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Syracuse plays their most important game to date this season as they host the Georgetown Hoyas. Tip off is set for 4:00 PM from the Carrier Dome, and is being televised on CBS.
If there were ever a game Syracuse needed to win in the long history of the program, tomorrow is as big as it gets.
Georgetown enters the game as the hottest team in college basketball. The Hoyas have won eight straight, including victories over Notre Dame, Louisville, Marquette, and Cincinnati. Make no mistake about it: The Hoyas are legit. John Thompson III and company enter the Carrier Dome with a 20-4 record, and a 10-3 Big East mark.
The Hoyas are led by sophomore Otto Porter. Porter is a sophomore forward who is an obvious front runner for Big East Player of the Year. Averaging 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, Porter is capable of giving the Syracuse zone nightmares. If the Hoyas are going to find success offensively, Porter will be the reason why. For a Hoya team averaging only 65.3 points a game, it is absolutely critical for Syracuse to know where he is on the court at all times. Porter suffered a knee injury in Georgetown’s win over DePaul earlier this week, but I have no doubt in my mind that he will be a factor in this game. As the team’s leader and as a competitor, I don’t see any scenario that he doesn’t play, barring another injury suffered inside the Dome today.
Another big name for the Hoyas is junior guard Markel Starks. Starks is a dynamic guard that is more than capable of making plays in crunch time. Starks is not afraid to take the three, averaging over 5 attempts a game in the previous five for the Hoyas. Against the zone Starks will absolutely be trigger happy, and Syracuse can’t allow him to get in a rhythm or he could have a career day.
For Syracuse, Jim Boeheim will see the return of freshman DaJuan Coleman. Coleman has been out following knee surgery earlier this season, so it is unknown what kind of role he will play in the game today. DaJuan is a young player who is still developing, and has had a limited role when healthy as it is as he learns the college game.
I think a huge key in this game for Syracuse is the guard play. Michael Carter-Williams is a guard with tremendous talent, but I see Syracuse going as far as James Southerland and Brandon Triche take them in this one. If Southerland and Triche can hit some outside shots, it will open up the paint to allow the opportunity for Carter-Williams to drive easier to make more plays in the paint. We have seen the Syracuse big men disappear offensively at times in Big East play, but if the guards can step up, life will be much easier for CJ Fair to hit some mid range jumpers and drive the paint to draw some fouls.
Another big key in this game is going to be rebounding. This is an area of the game that Syracuse absolutely better than Georgetown in this area of the game, and the Orange need to exploit it. Hoya forward Nate Lubick is more than capable of getting some rebounds, but can also easily be pushed around on the glass as well. It is going to be important to keep him from being a factor. Otto Porter will get his numbers one way or the other, but if they can limit the majority of the Hoya rebounding to him, they could be in for a successful day.
In front of 35,000+ screaming Orange fans, I don’t see how Jim Boeheim and company would allow themselves to lose this game. It should be noted that the last Syracuse loss in the Carrier Dome came to Georgetown in 2011, with the Hoya win being the only John Thompson III win in Syracuse. I think that between the crowd, the situation, and the moment, Syracuse finds a way and gets a huge win one last time at home over a long time rival.