After beating Duke and getting off to the best start in team history, the 21-0 Syracuse Orange can take a deep breath and focus on their next opponent Monday night, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The soon-to-be number one Orange will be facing their former Big East foe for the first time since the two teams joined the ACC this year. The Irish are 12-10 on the season.
This matchup was going to feature a battle between two brothers. Jerami Grant’s brother Jerian was the team leader in scoring, assists and steals before he was ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season just before conference play started.
Despite beating Duke in their first ever ACC game, the Irish are now 3-6 in conference games, giving up an average of 71.8 points per game to their opponents. They also rank 242nd in the nation in field goal percentage defense and 285th in three-point percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 44.8 and 37 percent respectively. Expect the Orange to have another nice offensive game, especially after the way they played on the offensive end against Duke, shooting 57 percent.
The Fighting Irish do have a good big man in Garrick Sherman. Sherman leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points and a team-high eight rebounds per game. Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita will have their work cut our for them, but they have been playing a lot better and more aggressively of late, so the matchup of the big men should be a good one.
The Pick: There isn’t too much that Notre Dame is really good at, but they are good enough to hang around. Only two of their losses have been by double-digits, all of the others were by eight points or less. We know the Orange like to keep it close with their opponents so I don’t expect them to run away with this one, especially since Notre Dame coach Mike Brey has plenty of experience against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. I expect C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant to have good games because Notre Dame doesn’t have enough on defense to slow both of them down. Trevor Cooney also has the potential to have a good game against a bad three-point defense. The Orange pull away late and win again, 72-58.
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York
When: 7:00 p.m. ET