Syracuse Looks for Revenge Against Virginia Tech
January 7, 2020. 40-31 Syracuse over Virginia Tech. 12:11 remained in the second half at the Carrier Dome. The Orange took the lead early in the first half and have held it for the last 21:07 of game time. A win over Virginia Tech would be massive after giving up a late lead to Notre Dame a few days earlier. Then, Virginia Tech Freshman Jalen Cone rose up and knocked down a three, plus the foul. Syracuse now led 40-35, 11:53 on the clock. Fast forward a couple minutes and the Hokies were on a run. Syracuse had 44-42 advantage when Cone hit another three, plus another foul, and converted another four-point-play. Virginia Tech took the lead with just over nine minutes remaining and never gave it back.
Syracuse tips off with Virginia Tech tomorrow at noon in Blacksburg, VA just 10 days after its aforementioned second half collapse. The Orange have been on a roll recently. Since losing to Virginia Tech, Syracuse picked up a massive road win over Virginia and then dominated Boston College at home. The Hokies have also played well, defeating NC State and Wake Forest in the last week. In an unpredictable ACC, Virginia Tech has found itself near the top with 13-4 (4-2) record.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives Syracuse just a 31.1% to win this game. Virginia Tech’s presents a difficult matchup for Syracuse. The Hokies rely heavily on three-point shooting, the kryptonite of the 2-3 zone. Virginia Tech makes the most three-pointers per game (10.1) of any ACC team this year and is tied for second in the conference, with Syracuse, for three-point percentage (37.1%).
So, how did the Orange hang in the game 10 days ago? Syracuse got very lucky and caught Virginia Tech on a cold night. It is unlikely that Virginia Tech shoots 10-36 from three-point range again. Virginia Forward Landers Nolley II, a 40% three-point shooter, went 1-11 from behind the arc against Syracuse. The positive for Syracuse is that Virginia Tech lacks a dominant big man. The Orange have been thrashed by forwards and centers all season (see John Mooney), but at 6’7 Landers Nolley II is the tallest starter on the floor for the Hokies.
Syracuse needs to produce more offense than it did in its first matchup with the Virginia Tech. Orange Guard Buddy Boeheim was held to just 10 points in the loss, with Forward Elijah Hughes being the only Syracuse player to exceed 12 points. If last game is any indication, the Orange may have found some rhythm. Buddy Boeheim exploded against Boston College scoring 22 points. Hughes followed suit with 19 of his own, and Guard Joe Girard III scored an efficient 12 points (4-6 FG, 3-4 3pt).
Syracuse, like Virginia Tech, relies heavily on three-pointers but was limited to just 17 attempts in its last matchup with the Hokies. Syracuse is averaging 26 attempts per game and needs to shoot more freely tomorrow afternoon. Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim are not the ACC’s leading scoring duo (averaging 35.1 PPG) because they’re shy with the basketball. If Syracuse can rebound effectively, avoid giving up big runs, and play decent offense, it has a chance to take down Virginia Tech.
Syracuse is currently in the easiest stretch of its schedule. Starting with the Boston College win then @Virginia Tech, @Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh. Virginia Tech is not a pushover by any means, but it is a winnable game against a team that is likely to make the tournament. A win over Virginia Tech could drastically change Syracuse’s March Madness resume at the moment. When the month of January comes to an end Syracuse will have to play @Clemson, Duke, @Florida St, and @Louisville within a three-week span.
Syracuse and Virginia Tech tip off at 12 p.m. from Cassell Coliseum. Coverage begins live on WAER at 11:30 a.m.