The SEC-Big East Challenge continues with the No. 6 ranked Syracuse Orange (4-0) taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2) in a contest that should be much closer than it looks on paper.
While ‘Cuse is a powerhouse led by superstar sophomore Michael Carter-Williams and bolstered by some familiar faces—Brandon Triche, James Southerland, C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas—they aren’t going to just waltz into this one and come out with a win.
Arkansas is helmed by potential 2013 first-round draft pick BJ Young, a 6’3” sophomore stud averaging over 20 points per game.
Keep reading for a more in-depth look at these key players, the X-factor in the contest, a predicted final score and much more.
When: Friday, Nov. 30 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.
Live Stream: ESPN3
No major injuries to report for either team.
Syracuse Player to Watch: Michael Carter-Williams
Carter-Williams was on the roster last year, but Scoop Jardine's and Dion Waiters’ presence left few minutes for the freshman to make an impact.
The 6’6” guard is averaging 10.3 assists and 5.5 rebounds, but his most impressive stat is the 9.3 assists he has doled out per game. This kid can simply facilitate when his jumper isn’t falling, something he has struggled with in the early season (41.7 percent from the field, 12.5 percent from deep).
Once his shot starts dropping, watch out.
Arkansas Player to Watch: BJ Young
This quick combo guard is an elite scorer that knows how to get to the rim and attack. He’s a solid passer who sees the floor well and knows how to find the open man.
Unfortunately, he’s susceptible to bouts of reckless play, and bad things happen when a player gets out of control. Young is no exception, and he needs to keep his head and body disciplined in order to truly take over a game.
If the Hogs are going to find a way to upset the Orangemen, it’s going to start and end with Young dominating the contest and putting the team on his back.
X-Factor: Bud Walton Crowd
The Razorbacks are fortunate enough to take on a top-10 opponent in their home venue. It’s one of the more wild home crowds in college basketball, and the Hogs fans are going to be out in full force for this one.
According Donna Ditota of The Post-Standard, arena workers will be giving out white shirts to the first 10,000 fans as they enter the Bud Walton Arena, and the rest are encouraged to also wear white for a “White Out.”
‘Cuse players are keenly aware of what they will be up against, and some are even looking forward to the conditions, as per Ditota’s article.
"Arkansas is a tough place to play. I’m looking forward to it," said SU forward C.J. Fair. "I like playing in stuff like that."
Fair should be careful what he wishes for, as it’s possible the crowd makes the difference in this one.
Prediction: Syracuse 75 – Arkansas 64
We think this will be a close contest until the final few minutes, when the Orange will pull away and dominate.
The Razorbacks have a star player and the athletes to remain in contention, but they lack the experience and overall skill of the Syracuse players.
This will definitely be a great matchup that will be much closer than the final score indicates.