#8 Syracuse (16-1, 4-0) travels to the Verizon Center in the nation's
capital to take on #12 Georgetown (11-3, 2-2) on Wednesday night. The
Hoyas need to defend their home court advantage -- each conference loss from
here on out makes the path to a high Big East tourney seed narrower and
narrower. Unfortunately for G-town, Syracuse should win the guard matchups
and be able to pull out a win, keeping their recent mastery of the Hoyas
intact. The Orange have won 8 of the teams' last 10 meetings, including the
last meeting in February.
For the Hoyas, the front court matchups should prove to be a slight
advantage. DaJuan Summers, a gritty 6'8" forward from Baltimore, has come
into his own in his junior season--14.7 ppg on 55% shooting has carried the
Hoyas through the schedule so far. Then there's Greg Monroe, Georgetown's
6'11" freshman center, one of the most highly-touted recruits in the nation.
Monroe has been a prolific player for John Thompson's squad, averaging
nearly 14 points, 2 steals, and 2 blocks per game. Monroe's efficiency
stands out among young players, as he is shooting 55% from the field.
Because Syracuse plays a zone defense and has a lineup heavily reliant on
its guards, Monroe and Summers will have the opportunity to make life
difficult for the Orange. Paul Harris, one of Syracuse's forwards, is too
small to guard either Summers or Monroe, leaving the duties to Arinze Onuaku
and Rick Jackson; Jackson will likely draw the difficult assignment of
handling Monroe. The 6'9" Jackson has the best build and skill set for the
task, at 6'9" and 1.6 blocks per game. If Georgetown wins, it will likely be
a result of a victory in the paint, whether in rebounding, second chance
points, or at the free throw line.
Jim Boeheim has two excellent freshman who will be thrown into the
frontcourt mix. Kris Joseph and Mookie Jones have not seen a lot of time
this season, tallying about 20 minutes per game between the two. Joseph and
Jones both look like future starters and could play bigger minutes against
Georgetown. At 6'7" and 6'6" respectively, Joseph and Jones have length to
change shots in the paint and prevent second-chance points around the rim.
All this being said, the best chance for the Orange to emerge victorious in
Washington are its exceptional group of guards...
In addition to being enjoyable to watch, Jonny Flynn (16 pts, 5.5 assists)
is a sparkplug that has ignited Syracuse's offense this year. Generously
listed at 6' and 185 lbs, Flynn is built like a young Allen Iverson and his
game could draw favorable comparisons. Viewers unfamiliar with Flynn will be
surprised by the number of times the sophomore point guard gets to the rim
(and finishes!) during a typical game. Lightening quick, Flynn has become
more efficient this season and helped the Orange offset the loss of 2008
lottery 1st Round pick Donte Greene. To defeat the
Hoyas, Flynn will need to shoot near his season average of 50% and find Paul
Harris (13 pts, 8 rebounds) and Eric Devendorf (14 pts, 3 assists) for
So far in 2008-09, Syracuse has played disciplined defense and efficient
offense--this is yet another good coaching job by Boeheim and the team has
gotten stronger as the season has worn on and the loss to Cleveland State
(on a half court shot with time expiring) has been cancelled out by wins
against Memphis, Florida, and Kansas. The issue for Syracuse is that its 4
conference wins so far are against the 4 weakest teams in the Big East. By
contrast, the Hoyas have already beaten Connecticut, while losing to
Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. The Hoya's other loss, to Tennessee on a neutral
floor, looks weaker each game the Volunteers lose, so a win against Syracuse
would be an impressive credential for the team.
Ultimately, Vegas should be proven wrong in this game, and a deep Syracuse
team (5 players averaging double figures) will edge a less-diversified
Georgetown squad in a close game.
Prediction: Syracuse Margin: 1-3 points