PROVIDENCE FRIARS (14-11)
at SYRACUSE ORANGE (21-4)
Carrier Dome – Syracuse, NY
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Syracuse -12.5, Total: 138.5
Providence will look to continue its winning streak with another victory against a ranked opponent, hitting the road Wednesday night against No. 8 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
When these two teams first met on Jan. 9, the Orange won by six in an ATS loss, amid a period when the Friars lost seven of their first nine conference games. Since then, Providence has rattled off four consecutive wins SU and ATS, including ones against then-No. 17 Cincinnati and then-No. 21 Notre Dame. The Orange are coming off a loss to Connecticut last week, but rebounded for an SU and ATS win against Seton Hall, beating the Pirates 76-65.
Can Syracuse cover the hefty spread against the surging Friars? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts will try to build on a stellar 6-3 ATS (67%) collective mark on Tuesday night. StatFox Scott is 59.3% ATS (16-11) on college hoops Best Bets since Feb. 8, while StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (84-69-3) for Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave went 2-0 ATS on Tuesday and is 52.1% ATS (137-126-5) for the season.
There’s one man to know in the Providence offense and that’s SG Bryce Cotton (20.4 PPG), who is playing an absurd 37.2 MPG for the Friars this season. Hitting 3.2 threes per game, he’s a threat from beyond the arc and only turns it over 1.7 times per game, which is quite impressive considering how much he has the ball, adding 3.1 assists per contest as well. He hasn’t scored more than 20 points in six consecutive games, but he keyed the team’s most recent upset of the Fighting Irish, hitting 8-of-14 shots en route to 19 points. In the first meeting between the two teams, he scored a game-high 24 points on 7-for-10 shooting (5-for-8 threes). A pair of strong forwards comprise the Providence frontcourt in Kadeem Batts (14.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG) and LaDontae Henton (13.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG). The duo combined for just 13 points on 5-for-19 shooting in the first meeting with the Orange and must step it up in this one. That shouldn’t be hard for Batts in particular, who has three consecutive 20-point efforts under his belt (23.0 PPG), doing so on 57% FG. Another key to penetrating the Syracuse 2-3 zone will be PG Vincent Council (9.5 PPG, 7.3 APG), who has 27 assists and just three turnovers in the past three games, and grabbed a whopping 11 rebounds in Saturday's win over the Irish.
With 40.2 RPG, the Orange rank 11th in the nation. SF C.J. Fair (14.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG) leads that effort and is also an effective scorer, coming off a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double. Fair recorded a team-high 23 points and 11 boards against Providence earlier in the season while helping to shut down Batts and Henton. The key to the Syracuse offense is 6-foot-6 PG Michael Carter-Williams (12.6 PPG), who has struggled with his shot for much of this season (37% FG, 29% threes) but has excelled as a defender and distributor, placing second in the nation in assists (8.0 APG) and third in steals (3.1 SPG). He’s averaging 4.0 SPG in the Orange’s past three contests. Senior SG Brandon Triche (14.9 PPG) leads Boeheim’s squad in scoring and in his last time out dropped 29 points while playing all 40 minutes. Super-sub PF James Southerland (13.5 PPG) adds a key spark off the bench, and he’s been hitting 3.3 threes per game in his trio of contests since becoming eligible to play again.