Preview: Syracuse vs. Notre Dame

Notre Dame is just two wins away from a perfect regular season but faces a tough opponent in No. 12 Syracuse on Saturday afternoon from Yankee Stadium as part of the Shamrock Series. The third-ranked Fighting Irish continued their march to the College Football Playoff with a dominating home win over Florida State last week, while the Orange keep climbing the rankings after a 54-23 win over Louisville.

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Senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush got the start in place of the injured Ian Book and didn’t disappoint, as the former starter threw for three touchdowns and Notre Dame took care of the Seminoles 42-13. “Brandon wants to win for Notre Dame, for his teammates. He’s been that way whether in a starting role or as a backup,” coach Brian Kelly told reporters after the game. Syracuse has won four straight after back-to-back road losses against Pittsburgh and Clemson, with its most recent victory being a revenge win of sorts against the hapless Cardinals last Friday evening. “Louisville’s the one team that’s really smacked us the past three years. This felt good for us. I really wanted to win by a lot, so I’m happy we did,” quarterback Eric Dungey told reporters after the game.

TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Notre Dame -10.5.

ABOUT SYRACUSE (8-2): Dungey ran for two scores and threw for another against Louisville and has put to rest the mini-quarterback controversy from earlier in the season between himself and redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito. But it was the Orange’s rushing game that was truly dominant against the Cardinals as the team racked up 326 yards on the ground, led by Moe Neal’s career-best 159 yards and two scores. Syracuse’s defense played one of its better games of the season, forcing four turnovers, but will be challenged on Saturday against an Irish offense that averages just under 200 rushing yards per game and has a passing game that is led by one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country in Book.

ABOUT NOTRE DAME (10-0): Kelly also said that Book will reclaim his starting role “when the doctor says he’s cleared to go,” which is expected to happen at some point this week as Notre Dame announced on Sunday that it is planning to start Book against the Orange. Book leads the nation in completion percentage (74.5 percent), is fourth in passing efficiency (170) and has thrown for 1,824 yards and 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions since taking over in Week 4. He’ll have to be sharp on Saturday as the Fighting Irish will look to keep pace with an explosive Syracuse offense that ranks second in the ACC in points per game (44.4) and yards per game (482).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Notre Dame is 8-0 all-time in the Shamrock Series where it plays a home game at a neutral field.

2. The Fighting Irish ran for 365 yards against a Florida State defense that was allowing just 2.8 yards per rush before last week.

3. Syracuse, which finished 6-0 at home this season, will close out the regular season on the road against Notre Dame and No. 22 Boston College.

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Posted in CFB, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Syracuse vs. Connecticut

No. 14 Syracuse and Connecticut renew acquaintances when they face off on Thursday in the opening round of the 2K Empire Classic at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The former Big East rivals met in New York last season as well with the Orange posting a 72-63 victory.

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First-year UConn coach Dan Hurley is concerned about the patented Syracuse zone used by coach Jim Boeheim. “We’ve got to try to weaken their zone by getting into their legs in the offensive end with our pressure,” Hurley told reporters. “That’s a big, big part of the game. Playing against their zone is probably 30 to 35 percent of what the game is.” The teams have played in each of the past four seasons but nothing is scheduled in the future and Boeheim allowed it will be tough to regularly play the Huskies with the ACC going to a 20-game conference slate next season. “We play the Big Ten game, and we play in a tournament,” Boeheim told reporters of the nonconference portion. “So it’s making it harder and harder to play teams that you used to play. You can only play so many of those kind of games.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

ABOUT SYRACUSE (2-0): Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett is off to a strong start by averaging 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds and junior guard Tyus Battle (15.5) and junior forward Elijah Hughes (14 per game) are also clicking. Boeheim said that center Paschal Chukwu is showing improvement and the 7-2 senior is averaging 10 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots. “He didn’t play his first year. He sat out a year, he got hurt,” Boeheim told reporters. “Last year was his first year playing and this is his second, to me. He’s doing some things better. He’s closing on the ball better. He’s getting in better position rebound-wise. He’s getting better.”

ABOUT CONNECTICUT (2-0): The senior backcourt of Jalen Adams (18 points per game) and Tarin Smith (17.5) is mixing well and the latter is a transfer from Duquesne who played high school basketball for Hurley’s Hall of Fame father, Bob. “He’s so versatile, he can shoot the 3, he can get to the rim, he’s so athletic, and he’s unselfish,” Adams told reporters of Smith. “He plays similar to me I think, he’s crafty in the ball screens. If his jumper isn’t falling, he can get to the paint. If his scoring is not working, he can drive and kick it out.” Sophomore guard Alterique Gilbert (13.5) and sophomore power forward Josh Carlton (13 per game) also average in double digits.

TIP-INS

1. Syracuse holds a 56-38 edge in the series.

2. UConn sophomore F Isaiah Whaley (ankle) is expected to play after a one-game absence.

3. Orange senior PG Frank Howard (ankle) recently returned to practice but isn’t expected to be available on Thursday.

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Posted in CBB, Top Fantasy Picks

March Madness Final Four preview

Syracuse Orange vs North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels are the only top seed in the nation standing in the Final Four and are heading into this record breaking 19th time to the last 4 of the NCAA tournament.  They will face their ACC Conference rivals Syracuse Orange for the 3rd time this season, a team that are in a cinderellas story of a NCAA tournament at the NRG stadium in Houston. FanPicks is proud to bring you this March Madness Final Four preview. Come enjoy our March Madness Fantasy contests at Fanpicks with over 5 MILLION dollars in prizes for the NCAA TOURNAMENT.

March Madness Final Four preview

The Tar Heels seniors Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige lead their team that is averaging 89.3 pts per game in the tournament and winning on average by margins of 16 pts. They’re on a 9 game winning streak now and are currently playing the best basketball full of confidence and looking like champions. On another hand, their opponents had lost 5 of 6 gamens entering the NCAA Tournament but really are playing their best basketball at the moment and are only one victory away from the final. They seem to stick together and believe in themselves.

 

Syracuse come into this game having won their only NCAA Tournament in 2003. Their squad is full of talented young players mixed with a few veterans but their Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim is a big reason why they’re there. Their senior Michael Gbinije leads the team in scoring  with 17.6 pts and has 91 3-pointers this season. His consistency has helped the team a lot as he records double figures in points 37 straight games at least 20 pts in 4 of the last 6 games. Their freshman Malachi Richardson stepped up his level too and had a season high of 23 pts 68-61 in the Elite 8 over Virginia. Their teammate Tyler Lydon, which averages 10.2 pts per game is a huge threat. g a season high-matching 23 points in the 68-62 Elite Eight victory over Virginia, and fellow freshman Tyler Lydon (10.2 points overall) is also a threat.

 

The Tar Heels’ Hall of Fame coach, Roy Williams began their winning streak with a 75-70 win over Syracuse on Feb. 29. Brice Johnson, North Carolina’s main weapon averages 21 pts, 9.8 rebounds and shot an incredible 63% from the field in the first 4 rounds. The 6’10” All American has the school record for 23 double doubles this season and is the first Tar Heel to have 20 pts and 10 boards in 3 consecutives NCAA Tournament games.

Posted in CBB