The Clemson basketball team will take on the Syracuse Orange Wednesday night in a pivotal Atlantic Coastal Conference matchup.
Clemson basketball’s opening ACC matchup with Duke didn’t go as the Tigers would have wanted.
After competing in the first half, the Tigers were out-manned in the second half and fell to 0-1 early in conference play.
Tonight, we’ll see the Tigers travel up to Syracuse to take on the Orange in what will be a very important early ACC matchup.
To preview the game, we reached out to friend Paul Esden Jr., site expert over at Inside the Loudhouse, for an in-depth look at Syracuse.
1. What’s the expectations for Syracuse coming into the season and as we begin ACC play?
Esden: The hype train was so real heading into this season. Syracuse is coming off a surprising Sweet 16 run with a depleted team in 2017-18, now with five returning starters and a slew of new weapons it seemed like the sky was the limit for the Orange.
Then the team lost four nonconference games, whenever they’ve done that they have never made the tournament. So Syracuse obviously has their work cut out for them if they want to buck that trend. They started off on a good note vs Notre Dame on the road to kickoff ACC play with the best three point shooting performance of the season.
2. Syracuse likes to show a lot of different zone looks in that defense. What do you expect the Orange to do against the Tigers defensively?
Esden: Don’t worry you’ll see plenty of the 2-3 zone on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome. The defense at the end of last season (and during the NCAA tournament) was elite level.
The thought process was entering 2018 Syracuse will be AT LEAST that good defensively, but so far this season that hasn’t been the case. They’ve been pretty good (only allowing just under 72 points per game), but they can do better.
The St. Bonaventure game was the most complete defensive game the Orange has played this season. Syracuse wants to slow this game down and grind it out, that’s the mentality, I think this is a running team and they could benefit maximizing their depth, talent, and athleticism.
3. Who are the guys we should be watching for in the matchup?
Esden: Elijah Hughes is really coming into his own with the Orange. He had to sit out last year due to the transfer rules, but got a ton of work in practice and really pushed the tempo.
Now he gets the chance to play in actual basketball games. He can do a little bit of everything: shoot from downtown, attack the rim, etc. But you can’t just watch him Syracuse has a few potential lottery NBA picks in Oshae Brissett and Tyus Battle potentially who at any point can drop 20 points when the night is right.
4. For you. What does this game come down to? What things will you be looking for to determine the outcome of the game?
Esden: I think this is going to be a super close game, so what do super close games come down too? Turnovers. If Syracuse and that 2-3 zone can get some deflections and convert those into easy buckets in transition, the Orange should be in great shape to win their fourth straight contest.
Also another key, Syracuse didn’t have a free throw in the first half vs Notre Dame, they’re going to have to eventually pound the rock down there and get to the foul line and convert close to the rim. Keep a close eye on those things!
5. Finally, a prediction?
Esden: The last three games between these clubs have been decided by three points or less, I anticipate that trend to continue. I expect this game to be in the 60’s or low 70’s and be back and forth. Elijah Thomas really scares me in this game, the Orange have been downright ineffective with their big men on offense and defense (for the most part). Give me the Orange 72-71, with a Frank Howard buzzer beater notching the win.
We’d like to thank Esden for his time and excellent analysis and preview of the game tonight. Make sure you check out Inside the Loudhouse for the best Syracuse Orange coverage on the web.