Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
The CBE Classic semifinals continue at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Florida (3-0) comes off 64-50 win over Southern Utah, but they shot a horrid 1-16 shooting night from 3-point range. The Gators defensive pressure and ability to guard will be better this season after finishing 10th in field goal defense and ninth in rebounding last season. Florida’s young but experienced core group is a more cohesive and together unit in coach Billy Donovan’s system. The Gators are solid on the perimeter with Nick Calathes and Walter Hodge providing solid outside shooting. Calethes leads the Gators in scoring, rebounding and assists, and the early season question is who will man the middle for Florida? Dan Werner and Chandler Parson’s will be counted on to rebound and provide the strength inside.
Florida has shown a full-court press this early season and this contest with Syracuse could turn into a up-and-down fast paced contest. Syracuse (3-0) was a preseason top 20 team yet projected to finish 5th or 6th in the Big East Conference. That tells you all you need to know about the Big East. Syracuse returns a talented young core led by playmaking point guard and leading scorer Jonny Flynn. The co-Big East Rookie-of-the-Year led the Big East in minutes played as a freshman, and guided the very young Orange to 21 wins and a 9-9 finish in the Big East.
It will be interesting to see how much Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim uses his trademark 2-3 zone against Florida and their outside shooters. If they use more pressure and man-to-man, the Orange should generate a quicker tempo and more scoring chances in transition. Syracuse has scored 86, 76 and 85 points in their three opening games, and a deeper bench this year will allow them to run more often without the core five tiring in the second half. With Eric Davendorf and Andy Rautins back healthy with Flynn in the backcourt, and Paul Harris and Arinze Onuaku providing great strength and rebounding inside, we’ll call for Syracuse to pull the minor upset and advance to the tournament championship game.
Winner: Syracuse Margin: 1-4 points
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.