Our Beat writers believe Syracuse will win its first game after its COVID-19 break.
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After a comeback in the second half at Georgetown, Syracuse dropped a second straight game, falling to .500 for the third time this season. It appeared the Orange would have two winable games against Lehigh and then Cornell, but then at least four starters tested positive for COVID-19. Head coach Jim Boeheim said all players were vaccinated and given their booster vaccinations which helped reduce the effects of the virus, but the COVID-19 cases resulted in the Orange taking a break like last year > After the break, Syracuse (5-5, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) added Brown (8-5, 0-0 Ivy League) to their schedule. The bears come to the dome from their own COVID-19 break. This game will be Syracuse’s penultimate non-conference game of the year, so it could be a final vote before the ACC game starts.
This game features a team that has not played for 16 days (Syracuse) and a team that hasn’t played for 17 days (Brown) and can become a game to be won by the group that has less rust than the other. It’s one of those non-conference games that the Orange should easily win, but last year they only won one in three games after a postponement – with that one win requiring a 43 point increase in the second half to obliterate that what had escalated to a 20-point lead in Notre Dame. In the two defeats they shot 36.7% and 30% out of the field against Pittsburgh and Clemson.
But the Bears are an opponent that SU could fight against, who initially cannot find a firing rhythm and is still urgent the victory you need. Look for a balanced offensive to speed up the Orange on Monday, with Jesse Edwards taking a lead role as Brown’s tallest player in his lineup is only six feet tall.
Syracuse has added Brown to their schedule, to make up for – or at least should have – the two guaranteed victories against Lehigh and Cornell. These two games were canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Syracuse team, but unlike last season, the players’ symptoms were mild and their return to training appeared to be quick (the Orange returned to training on December 23) . Boeheim said last season that players like Joe Girard III and Buddy Boeheim took some time to fully recover from COVID-19 and get back to 100%, but this year he stressed that a fully vaccinated team had helped to alleviate the symptoms of its players. Look for SU to get an offensive pace here when she returns to the office and goes back to work against Brown.
Syracuse hasn’t played at home since the double-overtime thriller against Indiana and since losing to Georgetown in Washington no longer played a game. The Orange would have had two presumably easy wins against Lehigh and Cornell, but due to positive COVID-19 testing on the Syracuse team, SU added a December 27 game against Brown and rescheduled its game against Cornell to December 29 due to Georgia Tech entering COVID-19 logs. Syracuse dropped games like this that they should win, like Colgate and Georgetown, so this game doesn’t come as a matter of course. While Syracuse’s defenses have been bad all year round, I don’t see them as bad enough to give the Bears a chance at victory. The game against Brown should prove to be an easy vote out of a COVID-19 hiatus before the ACC games heat up hard and fast.
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