Posted on: September 4, 2009 12:12 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2009 12:20 pm

Minnesota Golden Gophers Game Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers 0-0 (0-0 Big 10)

Gophers Key Returning Players:
QB Adam Weber 6'3" 217lbs - 255-410 (62.2%), 2761 yards, 19 Total TD's, 8 INT
WR Eric Decker 6'2" 215lbs - 84 rec, 1074 yards, 8 Total TD
DB Traye Simmons 5'11" 179lbs - 61 Total Tackles, 4 INT 1 TD
OLB Simoni Lawrence 6'1" 221lbs - 66 Total Tackles, 10.5 Tackles For Loss, 4 Sacks, 1 TD

Previous Season:   Minnesota was 7-6 last season with five straight losses to end the year.  After starting off the season a sizzling 7-1 Minnesota finally hit some real competition and that coupled with an injury to star Wideout Eric Decker led Minny to 5 straight losses including an embarrasing 55-0 loss at Iowa and a 42-21 loss to Kansas in the Insight Bowl.  Despite the complete meltdown at seasons end, the season was still considered a success as it was a far cry from the 1-11 season Gopher fans experienced the seadson before.  This season a veteren group of players look to improve on last season and rise into the upper echelon of the Big Ten.

Game Preview:   This is arguably the biggest Syracuse University football game in about a decade, the Carrier Dome will be near a sellout and the monicre "The Loud House" will actually have meaning again.  There are 3 major keys to victory for Syracuse.  The first is contain Weber and Decker, if those two go off on the secondary it will be a long day, but if the Cuse can contain them and not let them get hot, they have a shot.  Safeties Mike Holmes and Max Suter are keys as they should have over the top coverage.  The second key to victory is ball control.  Over the last few seasons Cuse had a ridiculous amount of 3 and outs, putting the defense on the field for 3/4th's of the game allowing teams to pull away in the late third and fourth quarters.  That cannot happen this season, especially with the lack of depth and experience, Cuse needs to establish the running game with Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey and at least keep the T.O.P. at 50/50.  The final key to victory is YOU, the 12th man, the Dome crowd.  If your going to sellout the place you better be in there rockin, when the 3rd down bell chimes and the defense can get a big stop get on your feet and yell, rattle some keys, do something.  Show the country that Syracuse football is back and it isn't going anywhere.

My Prediction:  The start of the Doug Marrone Era begins with a win.  In what is the biggest game at the Dome since probably the 1998-99 season Cuse pulls off the win 24-20.  Expect Cuse to jump out early on the Gophers.  By halftime though the game has settled into a tie as Weber and Decker hook up.  In the second half Minny looks as though they are going to take the game over with another quick score Weber to Decker but Paulus comes back and throws his first collegiate TD, this brings the crowd alive and they will the Orange to victory. With a another score in the 4th Cuse holds off a late Minny drive and collects the W.

Posted on: September 4, 2009 10:14 am

Syracuse Football Upcoming Season

Football season is upon us, The Greg Robinson Era has finally come to an end and the dismal days of the past 4 years are hopefully over.  In steps Doug Marrone to take over the head coaching reigns, he has NO head coaching experience, he was a coordinator at the next level and he comes in promising change (sound familiar Cuse fans?), but there are a few things that seperate him from the others.  For starters, Marrone played at Syracuse, he is a Cuse alum and unlike Greg Robinson he does not bring in that west coast feel good mentality.  Simply stated Marrone is a hard a$$, evidence by the 19 departures since spring practice and the totally new, fresh look on the faces of the Syracuse players.

Those aren't the only changes Marrone has done, RB Doug Houge has now moved to starting OLB, a position he was highly recruited from in high school.  Former starting QB Andrew Robinson was moved to TE along with another former QB in Cody Catalina.  WR Mike Williams has come back to the team after some academic issues as he still leads the nation with consecutive games with a recieving TD (9).  Lastly, but probably most importantly, former Duke University PG and local saint Greg Paulus was brought in to lead the team and be the starting QB.  Paulus was a 2 sport athlete in high school, a 5 star PG and the Gatorade National Player of the year in football.  He chose basketball over football and now with his final year of eligibility he has decided to come back to Syracuse as a graduate student and play some quarterback while he's here.  All eyes will be on Paulus as he trots onto the field for the first game of the season, most skeptics believe he will fail being away from the game for so long, but the Cuse faithful believe he still has what it takes to lead a team to victory.

Over the next few months I will be previewing the games starting with the home opener against Minnesota.  The college football season is underway and with it comes new life for the Syracuse University football program.
Posted on: March 26, 2009 6:17 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2009 9:31 pm

#2 Oklahoma Sooners (NCAA)

#2 Oklahoma Sooners 29-5 (13-3 Big XII)


Oklahoma Starting Lineup:

G Austin Johnson Sr.

G Willie Warren Fr.

G Tony Crocker Jr.

F Taylor Griffin Sr.

F Blake Griffin Soph.


Key Bench Players:

G Omar Leary Sr.

F Juan Pattillo Jr.

G Cade Davis Soph.


Previous Game:  The Sooners defeated the Michigan Wolverines 73-63 in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16.  The Wolverines where plagued by foul trouble as 4 starters finished with 4 or more fouls.  Consensous Player Of the Year Blake Griffin carried the Sooners to victory finishing with 33 points and 17 boards, freshman shooting guard Willie Warren had 16 points.


Game Preview:  The Sweet 16 is here.  The matchup between the #2 seed Oklahoma Sooners and the #3 seed Syracuse Orange.  The strong frontcourt of the Sooners against the deadly backourt of the Orange.  Contrary to what most people believe, the performance of Blake Griffin will not be the difference in this game.  Griffin, who averages 22.5 ppg along with 14.4 rpg, will undoubtedly get his 20 points and 15 rebounds.  For Syracuse to win they need to hold the OU guards down on the outside and not allow them to get hot.  Against Michigan and their 1-3-1 zone, OU went 6-19 or 31% from 3.  If Syracuse can get a performance like that out of Warren, Crocker, Johnson and Davis (all shoot between 34% and 38% from 3) regardless of what Blake Griffin does Cuse should come out on top.  If OU is going to win they need to "outshoot" the Syracuse guards.  If Flynn, Devendorf and Rautins can shoot like they did against Arizona State it is going to be hard to beat Syracuse.  Another key for the Cuse, the X factor, Paul Harris.  Other than his 29 point 22 rebound performance against UConn in 6 OT's, Paul has been quiet as of late.  He is one of the only guys on the team that isn't on his game.  Though, Harris has traditionally shown up for the big games in his career.  This is a huge game and if Harris can help the frontcourt with the Griffin's and Pattillo, it would go a long way towards getting a W and a trip to the Elite 8.  On a side note, Jim Boeheim is going for his 800th win in the game.  That would make him only the 8th head coach ever to reach 800 wins.


My Prediction:  Toughest prediction yet.  Blake Griffin is the POY, probable #1 draft pick and just all around great player.  The problem for OU is they have a severe lack of balance.  Outiside of Blake Griffin and Willie Warren there are not any other players that average double digits or are consistant scoring threats.  Expect another high scoring game, both teams shoot very well but the balance of Syracuse prevails giving Jim Boeheim number 800 and Syracuse a trip to the elite 8, their first since 2003.  85-82 Syracuse


Final Score: 84-71 Oklahoma


Posted on: March 21, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2009 2:20 pm

#6 Arizona State Sun Devils (NCAA)

#6 Arizona State Sun Devils 25-9 (11-7 Pac-10)


Arizona State Starting Lineup:

G Derrick Glasser Jr.

G Ty Abbott Soph.

G James Harden Soph.

G/F Rihards Kuksiks Soph.

F Jeff Pendergraph Sr.


Key Bench Players:

G Jamelle McMillan Soph.

G Jerren Shipp Jr.

C Eric Boateng Jr.


Previous Game:  In the first round of the tournament Arizona State defeated the Temple Owls 66-57.  Veteren Jeff Pendergraph led Arizona State with 22 points and 7 rebounds, point guard Derrick Glasser had a career high 22 points shooting 6 for 8 from the field.  All American James Harden was shut down as he shot just 1-8 from the field and had only 9 points, 11 off his average.


Game Preview:  Friday Syracuse got its first tournament win since 2004.  Now that that's out of the way Syracuse is looking to make a run to the Motor City.  In their way, the Arizona State Sun Devils led by All American guard James Harden.  Harden is averaging 20 points per game on the season along with 5 assists.  Syracuse will need to key on him because he can create, dish and score and if he gets off it will be a long day.  Arizona State, like the Orange, lost in their Conference Tournament Championship.  ASU lost to a hot USC team in the title game, one of the reasons for the loss was foul trouble, a common thread in all of ASU's losses.  In all 9 of ASU's losses James Harden, Jeff Pendergraph or both have had 4 or more fouls.  Having your two best players in foul trouble is never good, but couple that with the fact that ASU really only has Pendergraph in the post and it makes for a rough outing.  If Syracuse can get the ball inside to Onuaku, Jackson and hopefully a healthy Ongenaut, and get Pendergraph in early foul trouble it will force ASU to go small or put in their raw center Eric Boateng, which is a huge advantage to Cuse.  On the offensive end, Syracuse arguably had their worst shooting game of the season against Stephen F. Austin, they shot 45% overall but from 3 point range Cuse was just 2/16 or 12.5%.  It is unlikey Cuse will have two games in a row with shooting like that, especially against a zone defense like ASU's.  Syracuse should go inside out against Arizona States' zone, dump the ball in to Onuaku and Jackson to work Pendergraph then kick it out for the open three.  On defense Cuse, Onuaku and Jackson specifically, needs to guard the middle of the 2-3, as Pendergraph will be stationed at the high post looking for that easy 14-16 foot jumpshot.  If he doesn't get that he'll look to kick it to the many ASU shooters.  Harden has made 57 3's (36%), Kuksiks 85 (44%), Glasser 41 (41%), Abbott 38 (26%), McMillan 31 (36%) and Shipp 14 (32%).  At least 3 of these guys will be on the court at any time and even though Syracuse is top 5 in the nation in FG% defense will they be able to cover all these shooters in the 2-3 zone?  Or will they be forced into man?


My Prediction:  ASU has been good all season.  We all know James Harden is going to be a lottery pick and Flynn is right up there with him.  What this game comes down to is rather or not ASU can stop Onuaku, Jackson and a returning Ongenaut in the post and if Syracuse can hold down the the ASU shooters along with Harden.  ASU may come out a bit slow, as the tip is 10:10 a.m. their time, but it should be a relatively high scoring game as 3's rain down in Miami from both teams.  Onuaku, Jackson and Ongenaut eventually just overpower ASU and Cuse prevails 84-75.


Final Score: 78-67 Syracuse




Posted on: March 19, 2009 11:25 am
Edited on: March 20, 2009 2:09 pm

#13 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (NCAA)

#13 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 24-7 (13-3 Southland)


Stephen F. Austin Starting Lineup:

G Eric Bell Jr.

G Girod Adams Jr.

F Josh Alexander Sr.

F Nick Shaw Sr.

C Matt Kingsley Sr.


Key Bench Players:

G Eddie Williams Soph.

G Walt Harris Jr.

F Benson Akpan Sr.


Previous Game:  The 'Jacks of Stephen F. Austin defeated the Texas San-Antonio RoadRunners to win the Southland Conference Tournament by a score of 68-57.  Matt Kingsley led the 'Jacks with 20 points and 6 rebounds.  Josh Alexander and Eddie Williams each chipped in with 16 points.


Game Preview:  Syracuse is finally back in the NCAA Tournament after a 2 season hiatus.  Although, 2 years is nothing compared to actually never being in the tournament, like Stephen F. Austin.  This is SFA's first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and also the first for their Head Coach Danny Kaspar, compared to 24 appearances for Jim Boeheim.  That is one of the big reasons as to why Syracuse should easily win this one.  That along with the fact that Syracuse is one of the hottest teams in the Tournament.  Winning 8 straight by an average of 20+ before losing to Louisville in the Big East Tournament Championship because of fatigue.  That issue of fatigue has been brought up many times over the past week as analyst after analyst questions the legs of the Syracuse's players.  "I'm only 20-years-old, I'm young," Flynn said. "We're used to playing basketball all the time back home."  So fatigue should not be a factor after a full 5 days of rest.  For SFA to try to wear down Cuse they need to play their hard nosed defense they have played all season.  SFA ranks 2nd in the country in opponents points per game and allows offenses to shoot just 37.2%  from the field.  They haven't played an offensive juggernaut like Syracuse though.  Syracuse shoots 48.8% form the field, thanks mostly to Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku who both shoot over 62% from the field.  Cuse also averages 81 ppg, tops in the Big East and top 5 in the nation.  If Syracuse even has a below average day on offense it is still better than most teams.  The question is on the defensive side of the ball.  Lately, Syracuse has been great in their 2-3 zone, forcing TO's, bad shots and giving opposing teams offensive fits.  It will be interesting to see how SFA scores the ball.  The 2-3 will take away 6 foot 9" star center Matt Kingsley down in the low post, and SFA only shoots 31% from 3 on the season so they make knock down a couple long range shots but not as much as they would need to win.  5 foot 3" point Eric Bell will not be so eager to go into the teeth of the 2-3, and if SFA wants to try to beat Cuse down the floor they will turn it into a run and gun type of game, which is not their style.  Look for SFA to try and lull Syracuse to sleep with long offensive possesions and then try to get a good shot with under 15 seconds to go in the shot clock.


My Prediction:  Matt Kingsley is a great player for Stephen F. Austin, so is Josh Alexander, but Syracuse is bigger at literally every position.  They have been battle tested and they have a coach who has more experience than anyone in the South Region.  Syracuse will not be fatigued and they will run away with this first round game.  77-57 Syracuse.


Final Score: 59-44 Syracuse




Posted on: March 13, 2009 9:36 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2009 12:10 am

#7 West Virginia Mountaineers (BET)

#7 West Virginia Mountaineers 23-10 (10-8 BE)


West Virginia Starting Lineup:

G Darryl Bryant Fr.

G Alex Ruoff Sr.

F Da'Sean Butler Jr.

F Devin Ebanks Fr.

F Wellington Smith Jr.


Key Bench Players:

F Kevin Jones Fr.

F John Flowers Soph.

F Cam Thoroughman Soph.


Previous Game:  The 7 seeded West Virginia Mountaineers upset the 2 seed and 3rd ranked Pitt Panthers in the quarterfinals last night by a score of 74-60.  It was the first time WVU beat Pitt this season as they where previously 0-2.  Freshman Devin Ebanks was the hero of the game as he had 20 points 7 rebounds and played all 40 minutes.  Big East Co-Player of the year Dajaun Blair fouled out in just 18 minutes.


Game Preview:  After arguably the greatest game of all-time last night/this morning Syracuse has to get right back on the horse in the Big East Tournament Semi Finals.  Six overtimes must take a lot out of you as Jonny Flynn eluded to this morning saying, "I can't feel my legs", and because of that WVU has an excellent chance to take advantage of Syracuse.  West Virginia is going to try and run Syracuse into the ground, expect a lot of early substitutions for both teams as Cuse trys to get the freshest possible legs in the game and as WVU trys to just run, run run.  Keys to this game are the play of Arinze Onuaku, Kristof Ongenaut and Rick Jackson, the three bigs all played less than 40 minutes with Jackson and Ongenaut getting less than 30.  Those three need to be active tonight in the 2-3.  Kris Joseph will possibly make another appearance just because of fatigue.  You may see him late in the first half to get someone an early breather until halftime, he played 14 minutes last night (out of a possible 70) and played pretty well.  For WVU Devin Ebanks has been the man during this BET.  He has really come in and given West Virginia a legitimate third weapon outside of Ruoff and Butler.  Syracuse needs to keep him down and not let him get going because that will be trouble.  The big stat in this game will be rebounding, Syracuse may have won the 6OT thriller last night but they still got outrebounded by 13 (56-69).  A good rebounding team in WVU combined with a 2-3 zone defense that is very had too rebound out of along with a very fatigued team will be huge down the stretch.


My Prediction:  You can't give Syracuse enough credit for what they did in their quarterfinal game, that was simply amazing, but when you play like that, at such a high level for such a long time it takes a lot from you.  Cuse will fight, but WVU prevails 75-70.


Final Score: 74-69 Syracuse OT




Posted on: March 12, 2009 5:35 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2009 2:59 pm

#3 Connecticut Huskies Game Preview (BET)

#3 Connecticut Huskies 27-3 (15-3 BE)


Connecticut Starting Lineup:

G A.J. Price Sr.

G Craig Austrie Sr.

F Stanley Robinson Jr.

F Jeff Adrien Sr.

C Hasheem Thabeet Jr.


Key Bench Players:

G Kemba Walker Fr.

F Gavin Edwards Jr.


Previous Game:  The #1 ranked Huskies lost at The Petersen Events Center to then #3 Pittsburgh 70-60.  Sam Young carried Pitt with 31 points and 10 rebounds.  A.J. Price led UConn with 19 points.  Hasheem Thabeet chipped in 14 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks, although he was held scoreless in the second half.


Game Preview:   The 3 seed in the Big East Tournament is the 4th ranked team in the country, that is how strong the Big East has been this season.  Connecticut has been in the top 5 all season long, but the Huskies come into their opening Big East Tournament game with Syracuse as vulnerable as ever.  The last time Syracuse and UConn played, UConn thumped the Cuse 63-49 in a game in which Syracuse had their lowest point total of the season and shot just 31% from the field.  Hasheem Thabeet absolutely manhandled Syracuse as he had 8 points, 16 rebounds and 7 blocks, not to mention somehow leaving the game with just 1 foul.  Syracuses' bigs where not 100% but they (Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson) had a combined 6 points, 10 rebounds and 1 block, along with 7 fouls.  However this time around UConn is without former leading scorer Jerome Dyson.  In that game against Syracuse Dyson went down with a torn MCL and he is now done for the season.  Dyson was UConn's top offensive threat as he could drive, dish and shoot with consistency.  Since he has went down UConn hasn't been the same, they are 4-2 (both losses to Pittsburgh) and their average margin of victory is just 9.75 points.  Syracuse on the other hand has been on fire as of late winning 5 straight with an average margin of victory of 21 points.  In this game expect a lot closer matchup as Syracuse is finally healthy and UConn is a bit down.  The officiating should be top notch as well as it should always be in postseason play, another incident like the one between Syracuse and Seton Hall last night will not be tolerated.  Therefore, Thabeet won't be able to get away with some of his "blocks" he usually would get away with, though he will still be a major force in the middle.  For Syracuse to have a good chance of beating Uconn they need to keep up what they have been doing during this winning streak.  Having an active 2-3 zone (teams shooting 36.2%), taking care of the ball and getting better shots (shooting 56.6%)  and being an unselfish team (averaging 23.6 apg on 33.6 fgm per game).  If Syracuse does that, and stays out of foul trouble, there is no doubt Syracuse is moving on to the semifinals.


My Prediction:   It is awfully hard to pick against this Syracuse team, they arguably the hottest team in the Big East, if not the country right now, and beating an old rival like UConn would just fuel their fire.  Syracuse will extend its 5 game winning streak to 6 and 3 game winning streak over UConn in the BET to 4 with a win.  Expect a big time performance from Flynn and Devendrf along with another great performance from Ongenaut.  Thabeet will get into early foul trouble and UConn will never be able to recover. Syracuse wins 78-70.


Final Score: 127-117 Syracuse 6OT



Posted on: March 11, 2009 3:50 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2009 3:22 pm

#11 Seton Hall Pirates Game Preview (BET)

#11 Seton Hall Pirates 17-14 (7-11 BE)


Seton Hall Starting Lineup:

G Paul Gause Sr.

G Eugene Harvey Jr.

G Jeremy Hazell Soph.

F Robert Mitchell Jr.

F/C John Garcia Jr.


Key Bench Players :

G Jordan Theodore Fr.

F Robert Mitchell Jr.

F Brandon Walters Soph.


Previous Game:  In the first round of the Big East Tournament the #11 seed Seton Hall Pirates defeated the #14 seed South Florida Bulls 68-54.  The win snapped Seton Hall's 5 game losing streak in the BET.  Jeremy Hazell led the Pirates with 23 points, he scored 12 of those 23 in a 21-9 run to start the 2nd half and put the Pirates up by 14, they never looked back.


Game Preview:   The postseason is here and that means March Madness.  Expect the unexpected.  The last time Seton Hall and Syracuse matched up it was the 1st game of the Big East regular season and Syracuse romped Seton Hall by 24.  Seton Hall was without starting Center John Garcia and it's coach Bobby Gonzalez who was serving a 1 Big East game suspension due to an occurence that happened the previous season.  Now they are both back.  On the other hand we have #6 seeded Syracuse, a team that is on a 4 game winning streak, playing their best basketball of the season and actually defending the basketball.  That is a huge part of Syracuses' success as defense is the key to winning games in the postseason.  Syracuse needs to to hold Jeremy Hazell at bay, he had 23 points in the last game, he is going to score at least 15 somehow, Cuse just cannot let him go off.  Another player to watch out for is Robert Mitchell, he had the best game of his life against Syracuse back in December, putting up 22 points along with 10 boards.  Onuaku and Jackson shouldn't have a problem with him but he has a history of dominating Syracuse.  The key stat to this game is 3 point FG%.  Seton Hall will hoist up 3's over the Cuse 2-3 zone, in the last game against Syracuse they went 2-27 (7.4%) from 3, while Syracuse shot 12-22 (54.5%) and went 9-14 in the first half.  Syracuse has a history of performing excellently in MSG and in the BET (not including last season), so this should just be another game for them, but for Seton Hall they are fighting to win it all and get in the Big Dance, they will come out looking to upset some people.


My Prediction:  Syracuse hasn't been this hot this late since the 2003-04 season, when they went to the Sweet 16.  Syracuse has a shot to not only go to the Sweet 16 or further but they also have a legit shot at winning the BET, and it starts with a win over Seton Hall.  82-68 Syracuse.


Final Score: 89-74 Syracuse





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