Men's Basketball

Beat Writers predict Syracuse will open its Battle 4 Atlantis run with a win over VCU

Lucy Messineo-Witt | Photo Editor

Syracuse enters Battle 4 Atlantis after being upset 100-85 by Colgate.

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Syracuse heads to the Bahamas after stumbling against Colgate in its final tune-up before the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The Red Raiders stunned the Orange in the Dome 100-85 by launching 43 3-pointers, a record for the most 3-point shots allowed by Syracuse in a single game. That game may have shown opponents the weakness of the Syracuse defense as all the new players on the team adjust to the zone. Now, Syracuse begins its run in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament against VCU (2-2). 

The Rams are 2-2 on the season with losses to Wagner and Chattanooga and wins over Saint Peter’s and Vanderbilt. VCU is a defense-first team as it ranks fourth in the nation in effective field goal percentage on KenPom. The Rams offense has only topped 50 points twice, but they’ve also yet to allow more than 60 points in a game.

Here’s what our beat writers predict will happen in the Orange’s (2-1) first game in the Bahamas against VCU:

Andrew Crane (2-1)

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No trouble in paradise, yet

Syracuse 65, VCU 57

The good thing for Syracuse is that VCU won’t take 43 3-pointers in this game, won’t make 18 of them and definitely won’t score 100 points. It ranks 308th in 3-point percentage (26.3), 278th in adjusted offensive efficiency and has scored fewer than 58 points in all four of its games to start the year, per KenPom. While they’ll definitely give the Orange some trouble on defense because they have a top-25 unit in terms of adjusted efficiency and tend to play at a slower pace, the Rams likely won’t score enough to pull off an upset. The real challenge for SU will come later in the tournament, perhaps as early as the second round if they win and Baylor does, too. Auburn, Connecticut, Michigan State and Loyola Chicago — all either ranked in the AP Top 25 or receiving votes — await on the other side of the bracket, so VCU will serve as the perfect scenario for SU to rebound from that Colgate loss and find its rhythm once again. 

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Roshan Fernandez (2-1)

The easy draw

Syracuse 72, VCU 60

Syracuse got the easiest draw of the eight-team Battle 4 Atlantis tournament field in VCU. A win over the Rams would likely set up the Orange for a matchup with No. 6 Baylor, the defending national champions. A loss would probably lead to a matchup against Arizona State. The Rams just suffered a loss to Chattanooga and haven’t scored more than 60 points this season. Syracuse’s defense and rebounding was shaky against Colgate, but the unit will likely bounce back against a low-efficiency VCU offense. This game should be a confidence booster for the Orange. The other competition in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, however, will be a far steeper challenge.

Gaurav Shetty (2-1)

Dodging the Rams

Syracuse 69, VCU 53

Syracuse fell to Colgate last game because the Red Raiders managed to get hot from behind the arc and drained 18 3s, but VCU isn’t anywhere close to that mark. The Rams are shooting just 26.3% from deep, so they will not be able to take advantage of Syracuse the same way Colgate did. However, VCU is the strongest defensive test so far for the Orange. The Rams are fourth in the nation in effective field goal percentage, so for a Syracuse team that poured in 85 in the loss to Colgate, this will be a real challenge. As long as the Orange avoid playing hero ball the way they did in the second half against Colgate, they should have enough firepower to win.







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