NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Syracuse sits at number two in the nation. The Orange have been one of the most consistent teams this year. Jim Boeheim’s crew has had some close calls of late, but their strong defense has won them the game in the final minutes. Rutgers is just 12-14 on the year, but they do have the ability to knock off solid teams. Rutgers has beaten Pittsburgh, Florida, UConn, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame already this year. Can the Scarlet Knights pull off a huge upset here?
Jim Boeheim hasn’t been very happy with his team’s play of late. Offensively, Syracuse has looked bad when teams pack it in the paint and force them to win from outside. The Orange aren’t a very good outside shooting team, and if they aren’t getting to the rim it is often difficult for them to get a rhythm offensively. One of the biggest strengths of this Syracuse team is their ability to play at just about any pace. Syracuse likes to get out in transition when they can, but they are also able to play a half court game if necessary. Fab Melo might not be a big offensive producer, but he is crucial in the team’s zone defense.
Kris Joseph is the most versatile player for this Syracuse team. He leads the team in scoring at 14 points per game. Scoop Jardine is a good distributor of the basketball, and he leads the team with 133 assists. No regular player for Syracuse shoots better than 36.5% from three-point range, so they aren’t good when settling for outside shots. Syracuse averages 77 points per game.
Rutgers is 10-5 at home so far this season. Eli Carter is only a freshman, but he has stepped into the leadership role right away for this team. Carter leads the team in scoring at 13.6 points per game. He needs to cut down on his turnovers, as he already has 71 turnovers this season. This is a team that relies heavily on its guard play because they simply don’t have much depth down low. Gilvydas Biruta is a good power forward with above average skills in the post, but Rutgers really doesn’t have any other scoring options in the post. Dane Miller leads the team in rebounding from his two guard position.
The Scarlet Knights have been much better defensively at home this year. This team has beaten several very good teams at home, and Mike Rice does a good job getting his team fired up to play against top ranked teams. Rutgers will be outclassed in talent here, but I expect them to come out playing very hard.
I think this game will stay close for quite a while before Syracuse wears out Rutgers on the interior late in the game.
Prediction: Syracuse 68 Rutgers 62
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