Saturday is a very big game indeed. Syracuse is coming off of a big loss on the road, but should be ready to play at home. Andy Rautins is a question mark after reinjuring his knee, but signs seem to point to him playing. If we beat the Orange, we have a week to enjoy the win and get pumped up for a huge home game against Connecticut. Let's get to 4-2 and ride the happy train again.
I think it's pretty clear that Louisville was a more difficult matchup than Syracuse, a good sign. The Cardinals run out the toughest defense in the nation while Jim Boeheim's bunch is just out of the top 50. We are three points better than Georgetown (minus three for home court advantage), Georgetown is 11 points better than Syracuse (again, subtracting three), which means we will win by 11, as well (giving the Orange three points for playing in the Carrier Dome). That's it, case closed. No need to play the game.
Of course, I will do some statistical analysis the next two days for those of you who don't believe that logic. Check back in later for a recap of last night's box score.
EDIT: Last night Georgetown cruised to an easy victory over Syracuse in D.C. This game helped us learn several things about the Orange, namely:
- Andy Rautins is a pansy. 12 minutes into the game, Rautins was run over by a Georgetown player and tweaked the knee that forced him to sit out last season. Scared, Rautins rode the pine for the rest of the night. The diagnosis? A bruise. Way to play through the pain, Andy!
- Syracuse's defense against Georgetown was much worse than ours. Obviously one game does not a season make, but the Hoyas had to be excited about improving from 108 points per 100 possessions to 131. That's a very big jump, one that cannot be easily explained away by home court advantage or a hot shooting night. If the Irish are as efficient as Georgetown was last night, it'll be a big advantage for ND.
- Georgetown held both Notre Dame and Syracuse to their respective season averages for offensive efficiency. Luckily for the Irish, we average seven more points per hundred possessions than Syracuse. The offensive advantage also goes to Notre Dame.
- One worrysome note from last night? Syracuse destroyed Georgetown on the offensive boards, with 18. Now, Georgetown is a terrible rebounding bunch, just slightly better than the Irish, but a team that attacks the basket can succeed on second and third chances. One thing to watch out for.
- Georgetown shot well above their season average from beyond the arc, at 57%. Without such a strong night shooting, this game could have been close. Of course, Syracuse's zone can provide opportunities for shooters to get open looks. If that is the case, we need Ryan Ayers to be agressive in looking to score. Mac should take care of himself.
With Andy Rautins out, Eric Devendorf showed he can be more abusive er... assertive. 20 points on 4-7 from three point land for the Killer from Oak Hill(er). For the season, he's only about as efficent on offense as Tory Jackson, one reason why he's come off the bench a bit this year.
The five who started against Georgetown are the ones to watch. All are scarily consistent with their efficiencies, ranging from 112 to 117 (compare that to ND's range of 105 to 129). Jonny Flynn is a very good point guard, though can get wild shooting from deep. Rautins is their best three point threat. Onuaku and Harris grab eight rebounds per game a piece.
For the Irish, our deep threats are significantly better than Syracuse. You know about Mac and Ayers, but did you realize Tory Jackson is shooting a 42% clip from beyond the arc? Obviously, he's taking fewer shots than the other two. Still, that's a nice little stat.
Onuaku will be matching up Harangody. While Georgetown's Greg Monroe scored only 10 points last night, Luke Harangody has three double doubles in three games against the Orange. His 14 points last season were actually down from 20 and 21 the year before. The reason? Last year, Kyle McAlarney scored 30 points while setting the ND record (since broken) for three pointers in a game. If the Orange want to shut Mac down, Harangody might end up having a field day. Onuaku is big at 275 pounds, but he can't move as well as 'Gody. There should be room for Luke to go around or step back for a jumper.
I'm starting to get excited for this one. Tomorrow I will hopefully have a preview from the Syracuse side of things courtesy of Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, one of the better-named blogs out there.