I don't need to remind anybody how big the Villanova game is going to be. College Gameday, anticipation for nearly three months and a sold out Dome all come to mind.
This list goes on and on for 'Cuse basketball fans, and now the day we have all been waiting for is finally almost here.
I'm sure I'm not speaking just for myself when I say how freaking excited I am going to be waking up on Saturday morning. For those of you going to the game like KShaw, or are on the East coast, I have no clue how any of you will be able to handle waiting until 9 o'clock to get this thing under way.
I get the privilege of waiting 3 less hours, as tip-off will be at 6pm for me and anyone else currently on the West coast.
We still have over 24 hours to go before this thing tips off, but damnit I can't contain my excitement enough to not go all out and preview this colossal matchup between the two Big East leaders.
Come Saturday, I will be waiting the day away at Los Angeles TV station K-CAL at my internship, wearing Orange and acting downright giddy for when I get out of work at five to go watch the game with some fellow Syracuse fans.
Until then, let's break this sucker down by five main points that I think will decide the outcome:
Give the big advantage to Syracuse here. As it has been all year, our frontcourt will be the catalyst against the Wildcats on Saturday night, and in my opinion, will be the deciding factor of the game.
If all goes as planned, Syracuse should not have a problem with Villanova's bigs. As what has become one of their trademarks, the Wildcats start only one true forward in Antonio Pena, who fills the "Curtis Sumpter" role of the 09-'10 Wildcats. Pena is a good player who is second on the team in scoring and averages about 11 points and 8 rebounds, but he by no means should give AO or Rick any trouble.
Duke transfer Taylor King provides some decent size and a nice jumper, but he plays more like a guard than a big man who can threaten to defend any of our post players. Factor in Wes and Kris Joseph, and Syracuse's frontcourt should absolutely clean up against Villanova.
BIG Advantage: Syracuse
This is where things get tricky for the Orange. Villanova's roster is absolutely full of guards, and good ones at that. We all know about Scottie Reynolds, who thanks to Devo no longer being on our team, holds the distinction as "Guy everyone else in the conference thought should have graduated 2 years ago." It feels like Scottie has been around for about seven years, and it's safe to see we'll be glad to see him gone next year.
Great player, we all know what he's capable of, and as Scottie goes, 'Nova goes.
Problem number two, in my opinion, is Corey Fisher. I've been watching him with a close eye since he (and I) were high school seniors, and I've always admired his game. He's Villanova's second leading scorer and very streaky, so if Fisher gets hot, then watch out. Syracuse is definitely going to have to keep an eye on his slicing drives and dishes to open shooters.
As previously mentioned, 'Nova sticks mainly with a four-guard offense, and can bring up to six guys off the bench without hesitation. Corey "Pissman
" Stokes and Reggie Redding fill out the rest of the Cats starters, and both are nice complimentary players who are more than capable of having big games. However, none of the 'Nova players other than Reynolds and seldom-used freshman Isaiah Armwood is shooting above 40% from three, which will help out the 2-3 zone's cause greatly.
As for the Orange, our guard play this year from Andy Rautins has been absolutely stellar. We all know he's showing up for this big of a game, that's a definite at this point. As for Scoop and Brandon Triche, they're a little bit more of a dice roll. We've seen Triche have his ups and downs this year, so anything can happen with him in a big game.
Scoop has played very strong all year, but as of late has been making some more than questionable judgement errors late in games. All three of our true guards are going to need to step up huge against the Wildcats' heavy-guard attack, or else the Orange may find themselves having to claw back from behind all game.
While not nearly the deepest by any means, Syracuse has the luxury of having two of the best bench players in the entire country. Save for a select few, Kris Joseph could start on almost any other team in the nation. Scoop has provided incredible leadership for a backup point guard, and is tied for the team lead in assists. Having two guys like that come off the bench is a sign of a true national championship contender.
However, we all know that save for terrible foul trouble, 7-deep is as far as Syracuse will go, which could not be more opposite of Villanova.
The Wildcats have an incredible 11(!) players averaging double figures in minutes for the year, meaning that Jay Wright not only trusts his players, but expects them to perform in big moments. He'll need them more than ever in this game, which will have the biggest on-campus crowd to ever see a college basketball game. Taylor King has an ACC pedigree, so big games won't phase him, and freshman spark-plug Maliik Wayns (sadly not one of the Wayans brothers) contributes a great deal to Villanova's guard-heavy gameplan.
Call me crazy, but as great as it would be to be able to throw in nearly anyone on my bench, I'm taking quality over quantity all day.
Slight Advantage: Syracuse
Jay Wright is a great coach. I can't say enough about how much I like or respect Jay Wright for how far he's taken the Villanova program since he took over in 2001. I think he's one of the top two or three coaches in college under 50 years old, and I believe in the coming years he will get some great offers at bigger programs.
Not only is he smart and gets the most out of any team he has to work with, the guy is second to none as far as suits go! I mean, look at this guy
! He looks like he should be a model for an S&K Menswear catalog or something.
Now for Jimmy B, or as I like to now call him, Jim "I swear to God if I'm not Coach of the Year this season, I may just coach every game next year in my underwear to spite everyone" Boeheim.
He's done an absolutely fantastic job this season, and if Syracuse wins the Big East, should seriously win Coach of the Year. It's that simple. They were picked to finish 6th in the conference! They've lost 2 games after losing their top 3 scorers from last year! We all know this, and we all agree, this has been Boeheim's year. As tough as this decision is, I'm going with the wily old veteran, in a season in which he's made all the right moves, in his own building for this one.
Slight Advantage: Syracuse
I mean, if you can't get up for a home game in which you have sold nearly 35,000 seats, on prime time national television, in front of the College Gameday crew, then you must not have a pulse. Syracuse WILL be up for this game, as will Villanova. The Dome will be louder than it ever has been, and the atmosphere will most likely be both indescribable and impossible to fully capture on television. And if you can't tell, yes, I'm just a tiny bit bitter that I won't be there to see this one, as my Dad, brother, KShaw, and thousands of others will be.
Being that it is our home court, and a victory would give SU a two game lead in the Big East standings, how can I not give the advantage to the 'Cuse for this one? Let's show the country how good we really are, fellas.
Huge Advantage: Syracuse
Now after saying all of that, I'll let KShaw give you some of his thoughts on the game, and what he anticipates the game being like from his season tickets inside the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome. He will also give a final prediction to how we see the game playing out. If you spent the time to read this entire breakdown, you can probably take a hint and figure out whom I'm leaning towards picking. Go 'Cuse.
- Jake the Snake