No.14 Buffalo vs Syracuse Preview and Prediction
No.14 Buffalo vs Syracuse Preview
The upper New York chapter of the David/Goliath story will have a new twist when No. 14 Buffalo makes the 152-mile drive across I-90 to Syracuse on Tuesday.
However, in this 2018 matchup it is Syracuse playing the role of David.
Last time out
No. 14 Buffalo (10-0) remained one of nine undefeated Division I teams with a 73-65 victory over Southern Illinois on Saturday, when national sixth man of the year candidate Nick Perkins had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Syracuse (7-3), meanwhile, fell out of the AP Top 25 after a 68-62 home loss to Old Dominion, when the Orange lost a 13-point lead and were outscored by 16 in the second half.
Buffalo will be the first non-conference ranked team to enter the Carrier Dome in just under five years since the #8 Villanova Wildcats played Syracuse on Dec. 28, 2013. An unranked Syracuse team has not hosted a ranked non-conference team since the 1983-84 season when they played two in the Carrier Dome, including Oklahoma and North Carolina. The Bulls will be the highest ranked non-conference team to play an unranked Syracuse team since North Carolina, who was ranked first nationally on Dec. 18, 1983. That Tar Heels team feature a player by the name of Michael Jordan.
The Orange own a 28-5 advantage in a series that dates back to the 1917-18 campaign.
Syracuse has won the last 18 games against Buffalo.
The Bulls have not beaten the Orange since 1963.
The Bulls, who have won 10 straight for the first time since 1964-65, will meet No. 20 Marquette on Friday, the second of three teams on their Power Five menu. They vaulted into the AP Top 25 after a 99-94 overtime victory at West Virginia on Nov. 9.
“It’s the biggest week of our non-conference season,” Buffalo coach Nate Oats told reporters after the Southern Illinois game.
“I don’t want to call it a make-or-break week, because it’s not going to break our season if we don’t do what we’ve been doing. But it’s certainly a make week. If we can take care of business this week, we can pretty much guarantee ourselves an at-large bid, in my opinion.”
Syracuse had a five-game winning streak stopped by Old Dominion, its third non-conference loss this season after falling to Connecticut and then-No. 13 Oregon. The Orange have had as many as three non-conference losses six times in the previous 27 seasons, and they did not make the NCAA tournament in five of those.
“Every game is important,” Syracuse forward Oshae Brissett told the Syracuse Post-Standard, “but it holds high value now. We want to get that win and show everyone again that we’re still the same team.”
Brissett was the ringleader in the Orange’s victory over Buffalo last year, scoring 25 points and making all 16 free-throw attempts, including six down the stretch. He set a Carrier Dome record for most makes without a miss.
Tyus Battle knows Buffalo will present even more of a challenge this season.
“Buffalo’s a really good team,” Battle told reporters. “Really good defensively. They play fast. They’ve got good guards and they’re ranked. We just have to be ready to play.”
Dan’s bet: Buffalo +3.5
Score prediction: Buffalo 83 Syracuse 78