GameNight: Georgetown vs Syracuse

January 14th, 2009
Jan 14 2009 - 7:30pm

Preview & Prediction: By Douglas Phillabaum





#8 Syracuse (16-1, 4-0) travels to the Verizon Center in the nation's capital to take on #12 Georgetown (11-3, 2-2) on Wednesday night. The Hoyas need to defend their home court advantage -- each conference loss from here on out makes the path to a high Big East tourney seed narrower and narrower. Unfortunately for G-town, Syracuse should win the guard matchups and be able to pull out a win, keeping their recent mastery of the Hoyas intact. The Orange have won 8 of the teams' last 10 meetings, including the last meeting in February.

For the Hoyas, the front court matchups should prove to be a slight advantage. DaJuan Summers, a gritty 6'8" forward from Baltimore, has come into his own in his junior season--14.7 ppg on 55% shooting has carried the Hoyas through the schedule so far. Then there's Greg Monroe, Georgetown's 6'11" freshman center, one of the most highly-touted recruits in the nation. Monroe has been a prolific player for John Thompson's squad, averaging nearly 14 points, 2 steals, and 2 blocks per game. Monroe's efficiency stands out among young players, as he is shooting 55% from the field. Because Syracuse plays a zone defense and has a lineup heavily reliant on its guards, Monroe and Summers will have the opportunity to make life difficult for the Orange. Paul Harris, one of Syracuse's forwards, is too small to guard either Summers or Monroe, leaving the duties to Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson; Jackson will likely draw the difficult assignment of handling Monroe. The 6'9" Jackson has the best build and skill set for the task, at 6'9" and 1.6 blocks per game. If Georgetown wins, it will likely be a result of a victory in the paint, whether in rebounding, second chance points, or at the free throw line.

Jim Boeheim has two excellent freshman who will be thrown into the frontcourt mix. Kris Joseph and Mookie Jones have not seen a lot of time this season, tallying about 20 minutes per game between the two. Joseph and Jones both look like future starters and could play bigger minutes against Georgetown. At 6'7" and 6'6" respectively, Joseph and Jones have length to change shots in the paint and prevent second-chance points around the rim.  All this being said, the best chance for the Orange to emerge victorious in Washington are its exceptional group of guards...

In addition to being enjoyable to watch, Jonny Flynn (16 pts, 5.5 assists) is a sparkplug that has ignited Syracuse's offense this year. Generously listed at 6' and 185 lbs, Flynn is built like a young Allen Iverson and his game could draw favorable comparisons. Viewers unfamiliar with Flynn will be surprised by the number of times the sophomore point guard gets to the rim (and finishes!) during a typical game. Lightening quick, Flynn has become more efficient this season and helped the Orange offset the loss of 2008  lottery 1st Round pick Donte Greene. To defeat the Hoyas, Flynn will need to shoot near his season average of 50% and find Paul Harris (13 pts, 8 rebounds) and Eric Devendorf (14 pts, 3 assists) for high-percentage looks.

So far in 2008-09, Syracuse has played disciplined defense and efficient offense--this is yet another good coaching job by Boeheim and the team has gotten stronger as the season has worn on and the loss to Cleveland State (on a half court shot with time expiring) has been cancelled out by wins against Memphis, Florida, and Kansas. The issue for Syracuse is that its 4 conference wins so far are against the 4 weakest teams in the Big East. By contrast, the Hoyas have already beaten Connecticut, while losing to Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. The Hoya's other loss, to Tennessee on a neutral floor, looks weaker each game the Volunteers lose, so a win against Syracuse would be an impressive credential for the team.

Ultimately, Vegas should be proven wrong in this game, and a deep Syracuse team (5 players averaging double figures) will edge a less-diversified Georgetown squad in a close game.

Prediction: Syracuse       Margin: 1-3 points