Syracuse Orange Big Favorites at HomeBy Lucas M.
In a college basketball season with no clear cut favorite teams, it’s the merely very-good squads that have risen to the top. The No. 9-ranked Syracuse Orange are one such team. They’re 21-4, but have only beaten one top-ten ranked team (an admittedly impressive 70-68 victory over then-No. 1-ranked Louisville on the road on January 19). The Orange have been hovering in the 6-10 range all season in the rankings, and truthfully, that’s about where they belong. However, their zone defense is as stifling as ever as the they gear up for another highly-seeded NCAA tournament appearance next month. They may not be explosive, and they may not be elite, but they do make plays; even Louisville coach Rick Pitino thought so after his team lost to the Orange by two.
“That was a great college basketball game and they made some really terrific defensive plays down the stretch,” Pitino said after Cuse’s upset. “They made the plays, they made the shots when it counted and we didn’t.”
“We knew would be tough for us, especially here,” Fair said. “We haven’t been playing well on the road. We knew Seton Hall was tough because everyone on that team can shoot the ball. And they came out on us from the start. We just had to stick with it.”
“My body felt a little better today,” said Triche. “I was off a little against UConn, but I was unbalanced that game. Tonight, I didn’t want to be rushed. I felt very confident. If I’m being a leader, if I’m more vocal, then I get into the game more. I don’t worry about anything after I had a bad game. I just make sure I bounce back and do well.”
The biggest knock against Syracuse thus far this season, and it’s a legitimate one, has been the low caliber of their competition. However, that’s going to change very quickly down the season’s stretch. They get No. 11-ranked Georgetown twice, once at home and once on the road, while also drawing No. 17-ranked Marquette on the road and No. 10-ranked Louisville at home. They start the final stretch of the season tonight at home against Providence, but even that game is no lay-up; in a Big East conference full of talented teams, there are no gimmes, even though Las Vegas disagrees; the Orange are 12.5 point favorites.
However, there’s a good reason for that massive spread. Syracuse is a completely different team at home than they are on the road, especially against conference opponents. Per ESPN’s invaluable Stats and Information, Syracuse ranks in the top five in in the conference in points per game, field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage at home against conference opponents. They’re not even in the top 10 of those major statistical categories in the conference when they play on the road. Also per Stats and Info: the Orange are first in the Big East in first-chance points at home, but dead last in that category on the road. As gamblers and linemakers seek to find a competitive advantage in their wagering, look no further than home court vs. road game splits in college basketball. They’re often night and day, and that’s never been truer than it is with this Syracuse team. Hammer them at home, but think about it long and hard before you wager on Jim Boeheim’s squad on the road. That’s an inarguable trend in their play, so think about it before betting big next month on the Orange.