SYRACUSE ORANGE (4-0)
at ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (3-2)
SEC/Big East Challenge Ė Fayetteville, AR
Tip-off: Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Syracuse -7.5, Total: 149.5
Undefeated No. 6 Syracuse will play its first true road game of the year when it visits Arkansas in the SEC/Big East Challenge Friday night.
Sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams has turned the Syracuse offense into a well-oiled machine this season, tallying 9.3 assists per game, the highest total in the nation so far. But the Razorbacks have a potent offense of their own, recording 82.4 PPG (17th in D-I), led by BJ Youngís 20.5 PPG in just 26.5 MPG. Meanwhile, the Orange sport a balanced attack with four double-digit scorers.
Can the Orange post another blowout victory on Friday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts are a collective 52% ATS (78-72-3) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who is 5-2 ATS in the past six days and 59% ATS (16-11) for the season. StatFox Dave is at 55% ATS (32-26) for the season after going 62% ATS (23-14) since Nov. 17.
Carter-Williams runs the Syracuse attack but James Southerland (15.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG) and Brandon Triche (15.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.0 APG) are the teamís leading scorers. Southerland has been money from distance to start the year, hitting 2.3 threes per game at a 45% clip. At 6-foot-8, he is a matchup nightmare with his ability to score all over the court. Triche has been cold from distance (2-of-11), but has made up for it with his strong driving ability and defense, as he and Southerland both average 1.8 SPG. That doesnít compare to Carter-Williams, though, who is averaging 4.0 SPG (tied for 3rd in nation), forming a trio that should smother the Razorbacks. Junior swingman C.J. Fair (11.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG) is the teamís leading rebounder and also a solid scorer. Sophomore PF Rakeem Christmas is also showing big improvements on both ends this season, scoring 7.8 PPG on 65% FG, while also swatting 2.5 shots per game.
Young will have to lead the effort trying to break that nasty Syracuse defense without a deep crew of scorers behind him. Marshawn Powell (12.2 PPG) is the teamís only other double-digit scorer and he has been ice-cold in the past two games, scoring a total of 10 points on just 5-of-18 shooting. And undersized forward Coty Clarke (8.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG) will have his hands full in the paint, trying to battle against the Syracuse 2-3 zone standing at just 6-foot-7. Rashad Madden (7.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG) has length on the wing at 6-foot-5, but the sophomore isnít much of a long-range shooter and may have trouble opening up the offense. Same goes for Mardracus Wade (8.2 PPG), who is smaller at 6-foot-2, but has made just four three-pointers over five games.