Saturday, February 21, 2009

Preview -- Syracuse II

The Wildcats and Orange close out their home-n-home series as Nova travels to Syracuse to play in the Dome. The 'Cats are currently 9-4 in the Big East (20-5 overall), holding down 5th place and the Tuesday bye. Syracuse has climbed to 7-6 (19-7 overall), after starting the season with an 18-1 jag. In the past month they caught a 2-6 slide before a Valentine's Day victory over Georgetown (98-94 OT) at the Dome. They currently have a 25 game winning streak at the Pavilion. The Warriors are 7-1 in the Big East, complements in part to the win against the 'Cats at the Bradley Center to kick off both team's Big East regular season. Marquette comes in off of an unexpected loss to South Florida last Friday. Will the Warriors get back on a winning track? Or will Nova even this year's series & extend their streak in the Pav 26?...

Common Opponents, Good Wins, Bad Losses...continued...
Since they last met Cuse dropped a road game to Connecticut (63-49, -14 -- compare to Nova's 89-83, -6 loss) and beat West Virginia at home (OT 98-94, +4 -- compare to Nova's 93-72, -21).

Roster Notes
Syracuse -- Arinze Onuaku & Andy Rautins, limited due to injury for the Philadelphia end of the home-n-home, appear to be back to 100%, more or less. Rautins played 34 minutes versus Villanova, and averaged 26 minutes in the two games that followed. Eric Devendorf started when Rautins was sidelined, and has continued to start after his return. Expect Devo to start against Nova.
Onuaku was hobbled, though not sidelined in the week before the 1st Villanova game. He started the February 7th game & logged 21 minutes of PT. Those minutes grew (slightly) for the Connecticut where he exceeded 65% of the PT for the center spot. He played 40 minutes in the Orange's overtime win over Georgetown (that is >88% of the PT). Barring re-injury, expect him to start against the Wildcats and play a more typical 70% PT.

Villanova -- Senior Dwayne Anderson hyperextended his knee in the 2nd Marquette game. Anderson (like Onuaku) continued to play, seeing time in both the West Virginia and Rutgers games. Expect him to start again up in the Dome.

Want to Beat the Orange? Then...
Shooting, shot defense and rebounding (offensive rebounding) continue to be the leading indicators for winning or losing with both teams -- the 1st game confirmed this trend (see my post game analysis for the 1st game.), and the Orange's two subsequent games did not not reverse the trend.
1. Defend their shots -- When Syracuse converts (eFG%) at less than 50.0, they have gone 3-4, but in all of those wins (West Virginia, Canisius & South Florida...), their opponent converted at rates of 41.0 or less. Which brings us to the second key...
2. Hit your shots -- When their opponents have converted at rates of (eFG%) 57.1 or better, the Orange are 1-4. Their lone win was Georgetown -- and they needed an overtime period to finish the Hoyas. When Villanova converts at a (eFG%) rate of 50.7 or better they are 12-1.
3. Take It Slowly -- or Really Quickly -- Villanova appears to be bi-polar on the issue of possessions. When slower than the D1 average (of 66), the 'Cats are 9-0. When 15% higher, they are 3-1. At half-time of their first game I was concerned because it was clear the teams would be (well) above the D1 average, and above their own projected pace. The Wildcats won that game going away. By contrast, Syracuse does not seem comfortable in more deliberate games. In games where the pace has been 67 or lower (about Nova's speed), the Orange have gone 3-4.
4. Contest for Offensive Rebounds -- Syracuse has a pretty strong marker for opponent's offensive rebounding. In games where their opponent has been able to grab 36.8% or more of their missed shots, Syracuse has gone 4-6. Nova's offensive rebounding rate is 36.4%, right at the threshold. Nova has grabbed 36.7% or more of their misses in 11 games this season, going 11-0 in those games (the 'Cats grabbed 42.1 in game #1). When they grabbed 34.7% or less, they went 8-5.
5. Get to the Line -- Villanova has been held to an FTA/FGA rate of 24.2 or lower only once all season (it was Monmouth, and the 'Cats won anyway). That is what the Orange's opponents average. Villanova's FTRate in game #1 was 48.5, the highest allowed all season by the Orange. Since that game Syracuse allowed another opponent to accumulate an FTRate of 45.8 (UConn) & they lost that game too. When the opponent gets to the line 28.3% or higher, the Orange have gone 3-5.

...Both teams with 1-1 records since they last met. Both won games they were supposed to, but not quite as impressively as expected. And both lost on the road (expected) by double digits (not expected & disappointing). For the Orange, a win brings their total to 20 for the season, puts them +2 above .500 in the conference (8 wins) with 4 games left (strongly suggesting they win at least 9 and go the to Dance as they still have Rutgers on the schedule). A loss on the other hand brings them back down to .500 and delays win number 20 for another 2 to 7 days.

Win and Villanova sweeps the series and should lock up at least 5th place in the Big East, as a win at the Dome would be number 10 for them. At this point the 'Cats are playing for seed in the Dance, a road win over a Top 25 RPI opponent (Cuse is #17) can only strengthen their case.

Syracuse is 5-1 at home in conference games this season. Villanova is 3-3 in conference road games to this point

Pomeroy's calculations project that this game will be played for 73 possession, well above the projection for their last game (and a good deal closer to the actual pace of that game), with Syracuse taking a 1 point decision (78-77). Pomeroy's degree of certainty is 54%, which suggests this game is pretty close to a tossup, at the very least a one possession game. The 'Cats have the best FT% in the conference. It may come in handy at the Dome.

No comments: