If West Virginia Gets a Rockin', Syracuse May Not Come a Knockin'

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  Da'Sean Butler #1 of West Virginia dribbles the ball on the fast break against Portland during the 76 Classic at Anaheim Convention Center on November 29, 2009 in Anaheim, California. West Virginia defeated Portland 84-66.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

With another weekend rapidly approaching and many matchups set to make headlines over the course of Saturday and Sunday, one game that people seem to be seeing one way or another is Syracuse vs. West Virginia.

At the moment the Orange haven't been playing their best.  With a win yesterday against the Scarlet Knights, the Orange seemed to lapse in many areas of their play.  One of the biggest stars in College Basketball at the moment, Wesley Johnson, had a rather quiet game, and the majority of points came off of Andy Rautins' hot shooting hands.

As for West Virginia, their season has had its share of lows, but more importantly its shares of highs.  With losses to only Purdue and Notre Dame on the season, their confidence is high heading toward the sure-to-be-packed Coliseum on Saturday.

Player to Watch:  

Da'Sean Butler. The forward position is going to be key for both teams.  However the upper hand goes to the Mountaineers with this one.  Averaging 15.9 points per game, West Virginia also has the what I like to call "two-headed dog" style option with Butler and Kevin Jones being able to sub in and out and cause problems for Syracuse.

Recently against Southern Florida, Butler has been dominating particularly well off of the glass.  Syracuse is going to be more of a defensive struggle for the young man to get through, but if West Virginia's passing is to perfection, he could easily finish the game with 20 points or more.

Player to Forget About:

As hard as it is for me to write this, it's got to be Kris Joseph.  With Wesley Johnson dominating the forward position, Joseph struggles for playing time.  Although he is not a bad player, his presence is often left in the locker room when the Orange play ranked teams.

His 9.6 points per game is a far from a solid statistic, and if he wants to compete for a starting spot, he'll have to prove to head coach Jim Boeheim that he has the talent to score points.

Keys to the Game:

West Virginia

Although the Coliseum is far from one of the loudest arenas in sports, it will play into the hands of the Mountaineers.  As impressively as the Orange beat Rutgers yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that when the crowd got rowdy, the Orange got sloppy.

Dropped passes, poor throws, and missed opportunities were the result of a strong "R!U!" chant heard through the arena.  If the Mountaineers give their home fans something to cheer about, don't be surprised to see Syracuse get completely thrown off.

Syracuse

With what I just stated, Syracuse just needs to keep their head in the game and keep a positive mindset when the going gets tough.  With a close-to-star-studded roster, Syracuse needs to score early and hold onto the lead.  Whether or not Andy Rautins is able to drain three pointers is a question still seeking an answer.  But one thing is for sure, Wesley Johnson needs to play at his best.

Analysts and experts have predicted an upset for Sunday's game.  Unfortunatley, I tend to agree.  This could possibly be Syracuse's toughest opponent this season, and if they start out sluggish it may be a long game for Orange fans.  Either way, this isn't a game you want to miss.  With both rosters packed full of talent, and both teams looking to extend their season to throughout March, this is a game that may have Final Four stipulations.

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