The Syracuse University men’s basketball squad has a tough matchup on Saturday, Dec. 16, as the Orange hits the road to face old Big East foes Georgetown.
The Hoyas are one of the seven undefeated teams left in Division I, However, they have benefited from playing the easiest non-conference schedule in the country through their first seven games, according to college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy.
Despite this, Georgetown is never an easy contest for Syracuse, given their history and the fact that the Orange is far away from their Carrier Dome stomping grounds. Experience will also be an interesting dynamic since the Hoyas are carried by upperclassmen, while the Orange has a young, inexperienced team.
Based on the Pomeroy college basketball rankings, the Orange clock in at 57 with the Hoyas trailing behind at 93. In theory, this should be a manageable win for SU coach Jim Boeheim and company.
Syracuse leads Georgetown in the all-time records, 49-43, with 63 of those games decided by 10 points or less.
With a week off, backup center Bourama Sidibe should be ready to go after suffering a sprained ankle during the Dec. 5 win against Connecticut. He will be an important player to have available on the roster, with the Hoyas’ best player, Jessie Govan, being a likely matchup.
Govan averages 20.6 points and 13 rebounds per game on an average of 31.9 minutes this season. The big man boasts a 63 percent field goal percentage and has made 58.3 percent of his shots behind the arc.
While not a high volume 3-point shooter, his career 49.4 percentage of threes made could prove to be fatal against an Orange team that has been allowing on average 9.2 3-pointers per game with 26.1 attempted, among the worst in the nation.
Starting SU center Paschal Chukwu could be a key player on the defensive side of the ball considering the height mismatch between him and Govan. Chukwu stands at 7 feet 2 inches, topping Govan by 4 inches.
Sidibe and Chukwu average 2.9 and 2.6 blocks per game respectively, so expect that stat line to rise this weekend.
The trio of Franklin Howard, Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett have been the backbone of this SU team and their consistency will need to roll over into this game.
Battle has been shooting lights out with an average of 20.7 points per game, second in the ACC. Howard has contributed 6 assists per game, ranking third in the ACC. And Brissett snags 9.2 rebounds per game, a respectable sixth in the conference.
It will be a battle for the boards, with both teams ranking in the top 20 for total rebounds per game. Govan’s 13 rebounds per game leads the NCAA and will be a real challenge for Syracuse’s second-ranked offensive rebound percentage of 39.6 percent.
Defensive efficiency will be what matters the most if the Orange want to head home with a victory. Syracuse averages 9.2 steals per game, 13th in the nation, while Georgetown allows an abysmal 15 turnovers per game.
Whether or not the Orange can capitalize on those turnovers will be a deciding factor in the game. For the Hoyas, the team will need their prolific offense to translate over to one of the best defensive teams in the country. Georgetown’s credibility will be on the line if it doesn’t, however.
Catch the Syracuse Orange take on the Georgetown Hoyas this Saturday, Dec. 16, 12:30 p.m., on CBS (WTVH-Channel 5)