Screw it. I know that losses this weekend by Syracuse to Notre Dame and obviously the Bearcats getting morgantown'd might take some of the shine off of this game from a national perspective. What has once a game between the unquestioned best team in America and arguably the hottest team in America is now just a game between two teams near the top of the Big East standings. And I couldn't be happier about it. I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for the Bearcats to host a Big Monday game. It never happened in my 5 years on campus. It finally will tonight. In honor of the occasion I am eschewing the customary format for an all Syracuse one. Hit it.
4. Syracuse needs Fab Melo. Syracuse knew that it wouldn’t have Melo for Saturday’s matchup at Notre Dame earlier this week, according to Jim Boeheim. But the Orange didn’t look like it was prepared to compete without him. Jack Cooley destroyed Syracuse inside. And Melo’s absence was a significant factor in Cooley’s production. Melo has had 11 blocks in his last three outings for Syracuse. He’s averaging 3.0 per game this season. Syracuse is a deep team. But Melo’s interior defense has been vital this season. Who knows when/if he’ll return. But to fulfill its potential as a Final Four contender, the Orange will need Melo’s defensive tools.
Melo's absense is something the Bearcats must try to take advantage of.
Orange Scouting Report: Syracuse at Cincinnati // syracuse.com
On which Bearcat holds the key
Assistant's take: "It was Sean Kilpatrick before Syracuse lost Fab Melo, but without Melo inside, the key guy has got to be Yancy Gates. Syracuse couldn’t stop Jack Cooley without Melo. Gates could have a field day."
See, even Syracuse people agree.
Aside from a terrific outing at Providence (10-of-17) and a solid game against Marquette (8-of-20), the Orange has struggled from beyond the arc against Big East opponents this season. SU is 11th in conference games in 3-point field goal percentage at .319.
This could be one area where the Bearcats can do some work tonight
Instead, when the new Associated Press media poll comes out today, the Orange are expected to fall from the top spot. Combined with UC’s overtime loss at West Virginia on Saturday – which ended a run of 10 victories in 11 games for the Bearcats – tonight’s 7 p.m. game against Syracuse (20-1, 7-1) is not quite the marquee event that it shaped up to be just a few days ago.
Yes because that really needed to be injected into the discussion of this game. You should know the punchline by now.
"They’re a unique team," Syracuse ISP Radio Network analyst Matt Roe said. "They’re very deep. It’s not like a lot of teams that rely on one or two guys. This team, no one plays over 29 minutes. There’s only two scorers that score double figures – Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters. They’re just deep."
The depth is what concerns me the most. UC is a decently deep team, but no even close toe Syracuse's level. The Bearcats have a manageable dropoff between starters and bench, Cuse has hardly any drop off at all.