Third-ranked Syracuse is looking to improve to 9-0 for the fourth consecutive season Tuesday night with a win over the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Marshall (5-1) should have its hands full with Syracuse’s size and quickness. The Thundering Herd are coming off their first setback of the season, a two-point loss to Ohio, and are looking to right the ship. This may not matter considering the Orange’s superior talent, but stranger things have happened.
Here are five keys to securing a Syracuse victory.
Marshall is averaging 41.7 rebounds per game, which is good for 11th in the nation. In its overtime victory against Cincinnati on Nov. 25, Marshall outrebounded the Bearcats 40-27 to keep control of the ball and help secure the victory.
Syracuse is averaging 39.5 rebounds per game, but it has had superior size in each of its games. If it wants to control the ball, Syracuse needs to bring the glass cleaner.
Syracuse has been notorious this season for getting off to slow starts and letting teams hang around until it decides to tighten up the defense and go on a scoring spurt.
Against Cincinnati, Marshall overcame a nine-point deficit at halftime to win. Syracuse has a tremendous ability to go on big scoring runs. It would do well to make a move in the first half, rather than the second.
Dion Waiters is providing quality minutes off of the Syracuse bench
Jim Boeheim teams do not generally go very deep into the bench, but this year’s installment of the Orange presents a wonderful problem of distributing minutes across the bench.
The Orange go at least 10 deep and as opposed to Marshall’s seven or eight, they can keep fresh legs on the court throughout the contest.
Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair have essentially been the sixth and seventh starters off the bench and could likely start for most teams in America. Waiters, especially, has been an instant spark-plug to each game he’s entered and is proving to be an invaluable luxury.
Syracuse has a distinct length advantage and should be able to create turnovers against Marshall, which has proven to be a little sloppy with the ball.
Marshall has turned the ball over 95 times this season to only 75 assists, while the Orange have turned the ball over 99 times but have amassed 139 assists. The telling stat, however, is that Syracuse has stolen the ball an incredible 100 times already, while Marshall has only been able to come up with 39 steals on the season.
Using its length to create steals and get into transition should provide the biggest advantage for Syracuse.
With all the real and very troubling distractions off the court for Syracuse, Jim Boeheim has done a masterful job of keeping the Orange focused on the task at hand. It would be understandable for the Syracuse players to get wrapped up in the media circus, especially with the rumors circulating about Boeheim’s job security.
It seems the result of his last press conference combined with the support of Syracuse President Nancy Cantor will keep Boeheim’s job safe. Only time will tell what other revelations and distractions will affect Syracuse. As long as the players stay on task, as they have all season, Syracuse should be able to secure a victory early.