Game Preview: Notre Dame at Syracuse
Notre Dame (9-4) will look to get its first win of the new year and its first win in ACC play when it travels to Syracuse (8-5).
Start Time: 4:00 PM
TV: ESPN2 (Jason Benetti, play-by-play - Dan Dakich, analyst)
Spread: Syracuse -3.5
This will be the 51st meeting between Notre Dame and Syracuse, with the Orange holding a 29-21 edge in the series. Notre Dame is just 7-12 in games at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse enters the game with an 8-5 record, having lost four of five games between Nov. 27 and Dec. 14. All five of Syracuse’s losses have been by at least 10 points. After dropping an 89-79 game at Georgetown the Orange rattled off three straight wins, beating Oakland, North Florida and Niagara.
Like most recent Syracuse squads, the Orange are strong on defense and not very good on offense. Syracuse ranks 25th nationally in field goal defense, holding opponents to just 38.3-percent from the field. Orange opponents are shooting just 29.6-percent from behind the arc.
The Orange rank 144th in scoring offense (73.5) and are 170th in shooting, making 44.1-percent of their shots from the floor. Syracuse ranks just 208th in rebounds at 35.3 per game, which ranks 10th in the ACC.
Junior wing Elijah Hughes is the top offensive weapon, ranking 33rd in the country and second in the ACC at 19.8 points per game, and he leads the team with 61 assists. Hughes has reached double figures in every game this season, dropping at least 14 points in all but one contest.
Hughes has been especially good of late, averaging 22.8 points in his last five games, including a 33-point effort in a 97-63 win over Georgia Tech.
Freshman guard Joe Girard III was a prolific prep scorer that Irish fans are likely familiar with. His season got off to a bit of a slow start, but Girard has been in double figures each of the last five games, averaging 14.0 points per contest during that stretch.
Sophomore guard Buddy Boeheim, the son of head coach Jim Boeheim, leads the ACC in three-point attempts and three-pointers made.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Notre Dame is already 0-2 in conference play and the schedule doesn’t get easier, with a contest at NC State following this game and a matchup against No. 7 Louisville coming up after that. Notre Dame needs to steal at least one of the two road games heading into the contest against the Cardinals.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
This is a contest between two of the best teams in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio. Note Dame leads the nation with a 1.90 mark and Syracuse is 12th at 1.42.
Syracuse gets most of its scoring from the backcourt, so the Irish perimeter defense will have to be on its game. The Orange will look to limit possessions and use its length to close out on Notre Dame’s outside shooters.
That means point guard Prentiss Hubb will need to be on top of his game. Hubb will need to be able to penetrate the Syracuse zone, make good decisions with the basketball and when he gets open looks he needs to knock them down. That is true of all the Irish guards. Shooting has been an issue for the Irish this season, but when the shots fall Notre Dame can score.
NOTRE DAME LINEUP