Syracuse Basketball: Orange Need to Be on Upset Alert at Villanova

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIJanuary 25, 2013

SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 21:  Michael Carter-Williams #1, Baye Moussa Keita #12 and Jerami Grant #3 of the Syracuse Orange celebrate after a play during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Carrier Dome on January 21, 2013 in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Nate Shron/Getty Images

The third-ranked Syracuse Orange will look to continue their eight-game winning streak when they visit the Villanova Wildcats, Saturday. However, fresh off an upset of No. 5 Louisville, the Wildcats will be motivated to defeat a second straight ranked opponent.

Though this should be a Syracuse victory on paper, Big East road games are never easy. The Orange cannot afford to sleep on the Wildcats. Starting with Villanova's 73-64 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday, upsets have been the theme throughout college basketball in recent days.

No. 1 Duke, No. 9 Butler and No. 12 Minnesota were all upset Wednesday night.

With the Orange coming off of back-to-back wins against ranked opponents (Louisville and Cincinnati), the matchup in Philadelphia has all the makings of a hangover game.

Syracuse has been rolling as of late and getting big games from star point guard Michael Carter-Williams. The sophomore guard is coming off back-to-back games that saw him score 16 points and contribute seven assists.

Senior Brandon Triche has also been a key to success, leading the team with 14.5 points a game.

When just looking at this game, the Orange backcourt presents a tough matchup for the Wildcats, and the Syracuse big men should be able to control the paint and glass, as 'Nova ranks 86th in rebounding and 'Cuse is in the top 10 in that department.

With that being said, Syracuse will need to play a solid game to avoid being the next upset victim.

Poor shooting has been an issue for Jim Boeheim's team all season. Syracuse is ranked 68th in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting just 45.7 percent from the field. From the foul line, it's even worse for the Orange. 'Cuse ranks 241st from the charity stripe, making just 66.4 percent.

Though the shooting woes have only hurt them in one game so far this season, missed shots can quickly change an outcome. Nothing helps fuel an upset like poor shooting.

Villanova is led on offense by JayVaughn Pinkston. The sophomore forward is scoring 13.2 points a game and grabbing 4.5 rebounds a game.

The Wildcats have been up-and-down this season, losing three straight before their upset of Louisville. Though they only average 69.4 points a game and shoot just 40.8 percent from the field, they have found ways to win.  

These two teams met just two weeks ago at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse was victorious 72-61 in that game behind 22 points from forward C.J. Fair.

Syracuse holds an all-time record of 38-31 against the Wildcats.