LONG BEACH STATE 49ERS (3-4)
at SYRACUSE ORANGE (6-0)
Carrier Dome Ė Syracuse, NY
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Syracuse -20.5, Total: 141.5
Long Beach State will head across the country to try and topple No. 4 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome Thursday night.
Although they are averaging just 65.0 PPG on 40% FG as a team this season, the 49ers have received strong play from James Ennis (16.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG) who is a dangerous swing player at 6-foot-7. He needs to improve his shooting to become an elite player, however, as he is making just 28% of his threes despite attempting 4.6 treys per game. He will be key in matching up against a Syracuse backcourt that also has length. Michael Carter-Williams (11.5 PPG, 9.5 APG, 6.5 RPG) is 6-foot-6 running the point and fellow guard Brandon Triche is 6-foot-4. Their ability to contain Ennis should determine whether or not the 49ers get close in this one.
Will the Orange be able to cover another hefty spread? 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 52.3% ATS (101-92-5) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who is 8-3 ATS (73%) since Nov. 26 and 62% ATS (21-13) for the season. StatFox Brian is 8-3 ATS (73%) since Nov. 30 and sits at 52% ATS for the season. StatFox Dave is at 51.4% ATS (37-35-1) for the season after going 55% ATS (28-23-1) since Nov. 17.
The 49ers have done themselves no scheduling favors having played Arizona and North Carolina earlier in the year, Syracuse on Thursday and Ohio State in their next game on Saturday. Ennis is the teamís top player on both ends of the floor, also recording 1.1 SPG and 1.7 BPG. The teamís only other double-digit scorer is Mike Caffey (11.4 PPG, 4.1 APG), who like Ennis, is struggling to shoot at 29% FG and 20% threes (6-of-30). Heís bound to improve though, considering he was 45% FG and 38% threes last season. Both need to also take better care of the basketball, combining for 7.7 TOPG. The other 49ers player to watch out for is 6-foot-9 forward Dan Jennings, who will give the Orange frontcourt fits all night. With just 6.7 PPG he isnít an excellent scorer, but he grabs 7.0 RPG in just 23.7 MPG and is coming off two consecutive two-block performances.
The Orange have looked unbeatable to begin the year with not only a 6-0 SU mark, but also a 4-0 record ATS. And they have shown no problem covering large spreads either with a 24.1 PPG margin this year. Syracuse has four double-digit scorers led by James Southerland (16.7 PPG) off the bench as arguably the nationís best sixth man. The 6-foot-8 forward has been killer from deep this season, hitting 3.0 threes per game on a 47.4% clip. Triche (15.0 PPG, 3.3 APG) is also amid a strong season, forming a killer defensive tandem with Cater-Williams, combining to average 6.0 SPG in the backcourt. Swingman C.J. Fair (10.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG) rounds out the double-digit scorers, but DaJuan Coleman (14 points in 22 minutes last game) and Rakeem Christmas (5.3 RPG) are both players to watch out for in the frontcourt. They have the potential to man-up in the paint and could be critical in helping to battle Jennings for boards.