The time is finally here. The Syracuse men’s basketball team will make it’s Atlantic Coast Conference debut. Funny, but it will be like old times, at least the first two games. The Orange will host former Big East foe Miami on Saturday and then will make their ACC road debut on Tuesday against another former Big East rival Virginia Tech.
The Syracuse-Miami series, while the Hurricanes were in the Big East from 1992 through 2004, wasn’t very interesting. In fact, it was a pretty decent football rivalry. But Syracuse had the better of the “Canes on the basketball end going 14-5 over that time period.
This version of the Hurricanes is coached by Bronx native Jim Larrañaga. You might know Larrañaga from his days at George Mason and his Final Four appearance in 2005. He is in third season with Miami and has a 57-25 record.
The ‘Canes had to start over this year as they did not have one returning starter from their 2012-13 team which won the ACC regular season and tournament championships and finished with a 29-7 record. They made it to the Sweet 16 where they lost to Marquette 71-61.
Miami has already played one conference game, a 61-60 overtime loss to Virginia Tech back on December 8th. They are 8-5 overall with losses to St. Francis (Brooklyn), Central Florida, George Washington and Nebraska. There most impressive win of this season was a 60-47 victory over Arizona State (11-3).
The Hurricanes are led Rion Brown who averages 13.8 points per game. Donnavan Kirk is the ‘Canes leading rebounder averaging 7.3 rebounds per contest and one of the best shot blockers in the ACC.
The strength of this team is their defense limiting opponents to under 41% shooting from the field and just over 60 points per game.
Miami will struggle with the Syracuse 2-3 zone. They only shoot 32% from three point range and average 11 turnovers a game.
The Pick: It would be shocking if Syracuse lost their first-ever ACC game to a very average Miami team. The Hurricanes will really have to step up their outside shooting and limit their turnovers even to stay in the game. Expect Syracuse to enter the ACC in grand style and with a chip on their shoulder.
Where: Carrier Dome
When: 2 p.m.