Syracuse Looks to Halt Luck of the Irish as Notre Dame Comes Calling

Steve AugerAnalyst IIFebruary 3, 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

About the only thing that has gone right as of late for the Syracuse Orange was something they didn’t have an ounce of control over.

Thanks to Louisville’s blowout of Marquette on Sunday, the Golden Eagles and the Orange are still tied at 6-2 for first place in the Big East.

But at this point in the season, Jim Boeheim has much more pressing concerns.

Getting the Orange back on track has to be at the top of his list.

Syracuse, 18-3 on the season, has dropped two straight road games: an overtime thriller to Villanova and a defensive slugfest to Pittsburgh.

Such is life on the road in the Big East.

The Orange have a chance to right the ship on Monday when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish pay a visit.

Notre Dame, winners of three straight, enters the game at 6-4 in league play and are part of a four-team pack trailing Syracuse and Marquette by a mere half-game.

Syracuse will again have to manage with a shortened bench as they’ll be without James Southerland and DaJuan Coleman.

Without Southerland, the Orange have struggled to make three-point shots, having connected on only 25 of their past 75 attempts.

Knocking down threes just happens to be a strength of the Irish.

Eric Atkins (42.6), Cameron Biedscheid (38.7) and Pat Connaughton (38.4) are all excellent shooters from deep.  Jerian Grant, the older brother of Syracuse forward Jerami grant, shoots threes at a 35.6 percent clip.  Syracuse catches a break in that Notre Dame’s best three-point shooter, Scott Martin, will miss the game because of knee issues.  Martin, a 46 percent shooter from three, has missed the past three contests for the Irish.

Notre Dame will certainly test Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.  If the Orange don’t aggressively cover the gaps in the zone, they could be in for a long night.

Rebounding the ball in a zone against a team that shoots a lot of three-pointers is always challenging because of so many long rebounds.  Syracuse will have to do a better job at limiting extra possessions for Notre Dame.  Corralling long rebounds will ignite Syracuse’s transition game.

The Orange will also have to contend down low with Jack Cooley, who averages 15 points and 11 boards.  Cooley’s 11 RPG leads the conference.  With Coleman out of the lineup, that’s one less big body to handle Cooley.

Despite having lost two in a row on the road, Syracuse is hoping the comforts of the Carrier Dome will be exactly what they need as the look to extend the longest home winning streak in the nation to 36 games.

Syracuse has won nine of the past 14 meetings between the two schools, including three of the past four in the Dome.