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College Basketball Pick
Both teams would like a win here, but it's probably more important to Syracuse in the end. While their three-game losing streak was broken in their last win, it was against the worst team in the Big East. The Orange started the season 18-1 and were up to No. 3 in the rankings, but have since fallen off the grid a bit with only five wins in their last 11 games.
One of those losses included a pretty convincing loss at home to Georgetown. In that game, the Hoyas grabbed the lead with 13 minutes left in the second half and never gave it up again. That was also during Georgetown's 11-game Big East winning streak. They were brought back down to reality on Wednesday night in Villanova as they were down for most of the game and ended up losing by 10. The Hoyas are guaranteed at least a 3-seed in the conference tourney, currently tied with two other teams.
With the loss, the Hoyas were likely knocked out of their 1-seed in most brackets while the Orange are sitting as a 4-seed these days. Since this is a Top 20 matchup, this game will have a big factor on what way voters are leaning even after the conference tourneys. Syracuse doesn't have a great win since their road win at Louisville back in January and if they can grab one in Georgetown, they will have been able to beat two of the best teams in the Big East on the road. No one else can say that. The Hoyas just need to keep showing they are for real and that one loss isn't going to take them off their game.
Otto Porter Jr. is up for Player of the Year, but didn't have his usual effectiveness against Villanova in the last game. He finished with a solid 17 points, but was only 2-of-9 from three-point range. That was the second most threes he's taken all year, yet he could only make two of them. A couple of them came late in the game when they needed points, but that's still not what you want to see Porter doing. He's been beating teams in transition, driving to the basket and hitting mid-range jumpers which have led to his POY talks. If you can force Porter to shoot that many threes and take him out of his flow, you'll usually succeed.
Once again in that Nova game, you could see how limited the Hoyas offense is outside of Porter. Markel Starks has his moments, but he's been a little too aggressive lately with at least four fouls in four straight games. You can't have your second-best scorer in foul trouble every game. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is his replacement off the bench and has been hitting his shots lately which helps. Nate Lubick doesn't score a lot, but he's one of the Hoyas more important players as he's a good passer and their best rebounder down low.
Georgetown's defense was big in the last meeting between these teams, holding Syracuse to just 46 points. The Orange went just 4-for-20 in that game from long-range. Obviously, a much better performance will be needed on the road at the Verizon Center.
Michael Carter-Williams is having a great season, but he has kind of fallen off his game lately which explains the losses. He is a big part of what this team does as their point guard, but his averages in the last four games are lower than his season averages. He isn't a great shooter which doesn't help against zones like Georgetown's which is why he only had seven points in the last matchup. Brandon Triche is their best outside scorer, but he hasn't hit a three-pointer in three straight games and has also been in foul trouble in four straight games. A lot of the scoring has come from the hybrid play down low of C.J. Fair. He's averaging 18 points over the last three games and causes problems with his athletic play. James Southerland is another key factor and if his shot doesn't fall, Syracuse will be in trouble. He's coming off a 1-for-10 shooting game from behind the arc.
The Hoyas haven't loss at home since their still unexplainable 28-point loss to Pittsburgh. It's going to take a hot-shooting Syracuse team to take them down in this one. If they can't hit those long-range shots, it's unlikely the Orange will be able to pull the upset.
Predicted Score - Georgetown 59 Syracuse 58
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