SYRACUSE ORANGE (18-0)
at MIAMI HURRICANES (10-8)
BankUnited Center - Coral Gables, FL
Tip-off: Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Syracuse -6.5
Miami almost gave No. 2 Syracuse its first loss of the season in upstate New York earlier this month and will look to actually complete the upset when it hosts the Orange on Saturday afternoon.
The Hurricanes’ super-slow pace of play got to Syracuse in the first meeting on Jan. 4, a 49-44 victory for the Orange and their lowest scoring output of the season. Syracuse shot just 36% from the field (3-of-15 threes) in that game, which was well below its 72.0 PPG and 46.1% FG clip (35% threes) this season. That meeting marked the only ATS loss in the ACC for the Orange who are 4-1 ATS in their new conference, 5-1 ATS in non-home games and 10-4 ATS overall this season. They enter this game coming off a full week of rest, last playing and covering against Pittsburgh at home in a hard-fought 59-54 victory. The Hurricanes are coming off a 67-46 drubbing at the hands of Duke on Wednesday, dropping them to 2-4 SU and 3-3 ATS in conference play. Overall this season, the 'Canes are 6-8 ATS overall and a miserable 1-5 ATS at home.
Can Miami stay close to unbeaten Syracuse on Saturday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 59% ATS (166-114-5) mark, including a stellar 63% ATS (134-80) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 63% ATS (35-21-1) in Best Bets for the season and 67% ATS (28-14) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 61% ATS (34-22-1) for the season and 71% ATS (17-7) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Zach is a strong 58% ATS (32-23-1) on Best Bets this season, including 62% ATS (26-16) since Nov. 22. StatFox Gary is 56% ATS (31-24-2) for the season, and 62% ATS (23-14) since Dec. 3, while StatFox Scott is 59% ATS (34-24) for the season and 62% ATS (24-15) since Dec. 2.
As is usual with head coach Jim Boeheim and his 2-3 zone, Syracuse has one of the stingiest defenses in the nation, giving up 58.2 PPG (7th in Div. I) on 41.3% FG and 33.2% threes, while forcing 15.6 turnovers per game (26th in nation). The Orange also rank sixth nationally with 9.5 steals per game. The key on both ends of the floor has been freshman PG Tyler Ennis (11.9 PPG, 40% threes, 5.5 APG), who paces the team in passing and defense with 2.7 SPG. He recorded 10 points, seven assists and three steals in the earlier victory against Miami to begin a run of five straight double-figure scoring games (12.2 PPG, 5.8 APG). SG Trevor Cooney (13.6 PPG, 41% threes) is also nasty defensively (2.3 SPG), though he really struggled in the first meeting, going 2-for-12 from the field, all from behind the three-point arc. He really hasn't regained his touch since that game, going 11-for-45 on threes (24%) over his past five games. Senior PF C.J. Fair (16.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.6 SPG) led the Orange in the contest as he has done most of the season, pouring in 15 points with six boards. The always consistent Fair has scored at least a dozen points in 14 straight games and has at least a half-dozen boards in seven straight contests. SF Jerami Grant (12.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG) leads the team in rebounding, though it was PF Rakeem Christmas (5.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG) who paced the Orange on the glass in the first meeting, nabbing seven boards as Boeheim’s squad won the rebounding battle 29-27. Although Grant had just five points and five boards against the 'Canes, he has picked up his production in four games since with 13.0 PPG and 8.5 RPG. The Orange are not a strong rebounding club with a mere 34.7 RPG this season, which ranks 201st in the nation.
Miami’s slow pace of play can really frustrate opponents, as it limits opponents to 59.0 PPG (9th in Div. I) on 39.3% shooting (32nd in nation). Offensively the Hurricanes really struggle though, tallying only 61.5 PPG (343rd in Div. I), and they’ve failed to break 65 points so far in ACC play. The team dishes out only 11.2 APG (288th in nation) and shoots a paltry 41.8% FG (298th in Div. I) on a pitiful 31.5% threes. SG Rion Brown (13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) leads the team in scoring, but he’s coming off a season-low two points against Duke where he made just 1-of-6 shots. He also had an off-night at Syracuse with seven points on 3-of-9 FG, but did have four rebounds and four assists. Senior SG Garrius Adams (9.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.8 APG) had a team-high nine points against the Orange on Jan. 4, coming on 3-of-7 threes, but Adams is connecting on just 24% of his long-range attempts this season. Adams has been ice-cold over his past three games, making just 6-of-29 shots (21%), including 0-for-10 from three-point range. Senior PF Donnavan Kirk (10.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG) leads the team in rebounding and is the team’s only other double-digit scorer. He was held to two points (1-of-3 FG) in 30 minutes of action at Syracuse, but has stepped up his offense in the past three contests with 15.3 PPG on 19-of-29 FG (66%). Junior SF James Kelly (7.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG) played well against the Orange, going 4-for-5 from the field with eight points, but has averaged a mere 3.3 PPG on 3-of-10 FG in four games since that meeting.