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Syracuse vs #18 Ohio State Preview

The Orange hosts the Buckeyes in the ACC/BIG-10 Challenge

A barrage of 3-pointers threatened to drown out the Orange once again during their home matchup vs Colgate this past weekend. Coming off three straight losses where they allowed their opponents to shoot 41.1 percent from deep, Syracuse looked in for yet another beatdown from outside against the Raiders, who jumped out to an early lead after sinking three triples during the game’s first four minutes.

But that shock soon passed. The Orange eventually woke up and remembered who they are—a team that forces turnovers and pushes the tempo.

Chrislyn Carr kicked things off with a steal that she promptly turned into a fast break layup a few possessions later. Najé Murray did the same on Colgate’s next possession, cutting Syracuse’s deficit to one point going into the first TV timeout.

From that point on, the Orange ripped through the Raiders like a knife through butter. They outscored their fellow upstate New York inhabitants 64-41 from that point on, coasting to 79-57 victory that snapped their losing skid.

This week, a quick turnaround for Syracuse sees them facing off against another opponent relatively close by, but one that threatens to an even greater extent.

Ranked No. 18 overall, the Ohio State Buckeyes head to the Dome Wednesday evening, set to partake in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Having blown out all their adversaries so far this year, the Buckeyes represent the toughest challenge yet for the Orange, likely setting the stage for either an earth-shattering upset, or another sobering loss.

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Averaging 89.4 points per game this season, Ohio State carries the NCAA’s highest scoring offense into this game, dropping a daunting task before a Syracuse team that gives up more points than anyone else in the ACC right now.

Led by Jacy Sheldon, who’s shooting splits currently sit at .608/.462/.931, the Buckeyes clock in as arguably the country’s most efficient offensive unit. They collectively shoot 52.2 percent from the field—the nation’s second best mark, and 40.0 percent from three—tied for the 16th best. They also carry four different players averaging double figures, presenting the Orange with game-breaking versatility to defend.

Making matters worse, the Buckeyes also rarely turn the ball over. Illustrated most recently during their game against Colgate, the Orange frequently jump start their offense by forcing giveaways to ignite the fast break. But Ohio State knows how to pump the brakes on all that, averaging only 14.0 per game, leaving them only a few ticks away from a top-50 spot nationally.

With this Ohio State team oozing with talent and discipline, Syracuse likely struggles to contain them. However, they do possess at least something of an achilles heel, and if the Orange chop at it enough, they might stand a chance.

Despite Ohio State’s general prowess, they struggle a bit on the defensive glass. Even though they sit atop the Big Ten in almost every statistical category, no team in their conference averages fewer defensive rebounds per game than the Buckeyes.

With Ohio State’s opponents shooting just 35.7 percent from the field, they force missed shots better than most teams, but still struggle to secure the ball right after. Snatching up extra possessions on the offensive glass is an easy way for less talented teams to keep pace with highly efficient opposing offenses. The Orange need to recognize that, and use this lone flaw within Ohio State’s basketball machine to their advantage. If Syracuse hopes to contend with the Buckeyes, they need another big game from Alaysia Styles—who leads Syracuse with 3.3 offensive boards per game.

Make no mistake, the odds are stacked high against the Orange tonight. But we see goliaths go down in the Dome all the time. If Syracuse stays focused, and grinds for those extra offensive opportunities, they might begin to frustrate the Buckeyes and carve out an upset opportunity.