Friday, January 11, 2013

Farewell to the Dome: Villanova-Syracuse Preview

The worst

Tomorrow at noon, Villanova will play its final conference game at Syracuse, putting a sometimes bi-yearly matchup that fans of both schools look forward to on hiatus, at least for the time being. This year, Syracuse is very good, but within the last three weeks they've lost to Temple, and had close calls against Providence and South Florida, both teams that are probably worse than Villanova. The difference between this game and those two games is that Cuse was away in both of them. Historically, Villanova has done quite well in the Carrier Dome, winning three of their last four in the building, but past team success is not necessarily a good predictor.

On the floor, Syracuse's best player is Michael Carter-Williams, who was not suspended after he decided to boost a bathrobe and a pair of gloves from a Syracuse area Lord & Taylor, which is only a small blip in the long history of unpunished and lightly punished crimes by players on the Syracuse basketball team under Jim Boeheim. Why would someone steal a bathrobe? That's veering a bit far off topic though. Anyhow, Carter-Williams is the national leader in assists per game with 9.6, which is 1.2 per game better than the average of his closest competitior, and was listed in the top ten performing players in the country by Ken Pomeroy last weekend. He also plays excellent defense, which is problematic for Villanova, because Ryan Arcidiacono, and the team in general have shown a proclivity for turnovers.

To me, the key to this game is for Villanova to protect the ball, make shots from the outside against Syracuse's zone, and force Syracuse, a poor shooting team from the perimeter to shoot a lot of three pointers. If Syracuse are double-digit favors, I'd pick Villanova in this game.

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