The Syracuse Orange and Georgetown Hoyas advanced to face each other in the semifinals of the Big East men's basketball tournament after winning in early action on Thursday, so let's break down their Friday matchup, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN.
Georgetown had a relatively easy time getting to the semis with a win over the Cincinnati Bearcats. After a hard-fought first half between the Hoyas and Bearcats, it was Georgetown who would pull ahead in the second half to take home the win.
Syracuse didn't have such an easy time, however. The Orange jumped out to a 13-point first-half lead over the Pittsburgh Panthers, but the Panthers would outscore the Orange by 10 in the second half to make the game too close for comfort—although the Orange prevailed.
Before we break it down, let's take a look at the current Big East tourney bracket.
Big East Tournament Bracket
These two teams have been squaring off for decades now, but let's focus on what Syracuse and Georgetown have done to each other this season. The Orange have not fared well against the Hoyas after two losses in the pair's only two meetings.
The first meeting saw the Hoyas take an 11-point win in the Orange's building. Georgetown was led by star forward Otto Porter Jr., who dropped 33 on Syracuse to help his team gain a big advantage in the second half for the win.
In the second meeting, the Hoyas routed the Orange by 22 points in Washington D.C. in a game that was never even close. Georgetown was able to stifle Syracuse with sensational defense and stellar three-point shooting.
Clearly, Syracuse has its work cut out for it in this semifinal game with plenty of demons to exorcise in the process. Georgetown has played their Big East counterparts extraordinarily well this season and it remains to be seen if Syracuse can change that.
Key Player for Georgetown: Otto Porter Jr., Forward
Porter is hands down the best all-around player on the Hoyas roster this season and his numbers prove it. The star forward leads the team in points (16.4), rebounds (7.5) and steals (2.0). He is also second in blocks (1.0) and third in assists (2.7).
As if those great statistics weren't enough, Porter can also shoot the ball from deep. He's averaging 44 percent from three-point range this season. There isn't a spot on the floor that Porter can't dominate from, and Syracuse has found that out firsthand.
Against the Orange this season, Porter dropped 33 points the first time around and was a terror on the defensive end. In the second, Porter didn't score as many points, but he still got the job done in other areas of the game to make a serious impact with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Even when he's not at his best, Porter has so many ways he can affect a game. Stopping everything he does should be the No. 1 priority for Syracuse in this game.
Key Player for Syracuse: Michael Carter-Williams, Guard
Carter-Williams is Syracuse's everything man this season. He may not be leading the team in scoring (12.3 points per game), but he does lead the team in assists (7.8) and steals (2.8) per contest. The Syracuse guard also hits the boards hard with 4.7 per game.
Perhaps one of the best things about Carter-Williams' game is his ability to drive to the basket and dish. It's a strength that the Orange rely on to create some space on the perimeter for some of their better shooters.
Carter-Williams has a decent perimeter game and he can step behind the arc to shoot the three, but he does have some work to do if he hopes to improve that aspect of his repertoire. When at his best, he's one of the better floor generals in the country.
In the first meeting with Georgetown, Carter-Williams was quiet on the offensive side of the ball with just seven points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals. He did put up better numbers the second time around with 17 points, but Carter-Williams only mustered up two assists and not surprisingly Syracuse had a horrid offensive game as a result.
Key to Victory for Georgetown: Great Defense
It goes without saying that great defense is a key to any game, but Georgetown has proven it can really lay it on thick against Syracuse. The Hoyas have yet to allow the Orange to score over 50 points in a game this season—and it's no coincidence both of those games resulted in a win.
More specifically, the Hoyas will be doing themselves a great service if they can once again hold Carter-Williams to minimal assists and make the Orange work harder to get open looks.
The Orange's star guard makes things easier for his team, so it's up to the Hoyas to make things difficult for him in order to make it difficult for Syracuse's offense as a whole.
Syracuse is also a great rebounding team this season, so Georgetown must not allow Syracuse to control the offensive boards and get second-chance opportunities. That would be a recipe for disaster for the Hoyas.
Key to Victory for Syracuse: Stop Otto Porter Jr.
The first and maybe only priority for the Orange must be to stop this talented forward.
Porter has beaten Syracuse in multiple ways this season. Not only has he scored his team to victory, but he's also hit the boards and passed the ball with great success in order to beat the Orange in other facets.
The Orange must apply serious pressure to Porter so that he passes the ball and forces his teammates to do the majority of the work scoring the ball. However, Porter is a good passer, so the Orange must not allow him to break down their defense while setting his teammates up for easy buckets.
Porter will be hitting the boards in this game, so that's another area the Orange must be wary of, and Porter's ability to shoot the deep ball must also be respected if Syracuse wants to stand a chance of beating Georgetown for the first time this season.
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