Syracuse Basketball: Top Matchups to Watch Against Villanova

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 25, 2013

SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 21: C.J. Fair #5, Michael Carter-Williams #1 and Baye Moussa Keita #12 of the Syracuse Orange celebrate against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the game at the Carrier Dome on January 21, 2013 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Nate Shron/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange are entering their game Saturday boasting an impressive record of 18-1.  The Orange are currently No. 3 in the current AP poll, but with the Duke Blue Devils' loss to the Miami Hurricanes, it looks like they will be moving up to No. 2.

If the Orange want to move up in the rankings, they are going to have to defeat the Villanova Wildcats.  The Wildcats are hot right now, winning eight straight games, including a stunning victory against the Louisville Cardinals, who were ranked No. 5 at the time.

The Wildcats are looking to pull off another upset against the Orange.  If Jim Boeheim and company want to escape Villanova with a win, there are a few matchups they will need to take advantage of.

Here are just a few of the key matchups for Saturday's big game.


James Southerland vs. JayVaughn Pinkston

These two forwards will be a big key in the game.  Both players have been big contributors to their teams' offenses and will look to contain each other.

Southerland has been a big part of the Orange success.  He is averaging 13.6 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.  Besides his impressive athleticism, Southerland is a strong shooter nearly everywhere on the court.  He can drive to the basket, or step back and shoot from behind the arc.

Pinkston is the leading scorer for the Wildcats.  He is averaging 13.2 points per game and shooting almost 49 percent.  Although not as deadly from long range as Southerland, he is a solid player from behind the arc but excels inside the paint.

These two players will look to take control of the game early, so they will be the two scorers to watch for.


Michael Carter-Williams vs. Wildcats' Backcourt

If the Wildcats want to have any hope in this game, they will need to find a way for their guards to keep Carter-Williams under control.

Carter-Williams has arguably been one of the top five players in the country this season.  He leads the nation with 9.2 assists per game, nearly an entire assists ahead of D.J. Cooper from Ohio.  He also ranks fourth in the nation in steals, with 3.1 per game.  Along with his great passing and stealing, he has been a solid scorer, averaging 12.3 points per game.

The quickness and speed of Carter-Williams not only gets himself open, but also helps get teammates open.  He finds ways to drive to the bucket with the option to either take the shot or pass it out.

The Wildcats will struggle against him, but if they are able to contain him to a degree, it will give them a chance.