Syracuse and UConn Square Off for Last Time as Big East Rivals

Steve AugerAnalyst IIFebruary 13, 2013

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Michael Carter-Williams #1 of the Syracuse Orange takes the ball down the court against Sir'Dominic Pointer #15 of the St. John's Red Storm during the game at the Carrier Dome on February 10, 2013 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Nate Shron/Getty Images

The No. 6-ranked Syracuse Orange will attempt to hold onto first place in the Big East when they visit the Nutmeg State on Wednesday to face long-time rival the Connecticut Huskies.

Syracuse, 8-2, currently sits a half-game ahead of Marquette and Georgetown in the standings after the Golden Eagles lost to the Hoyas at Georgetown on Monday.

The Huskies, at 6-4, are two games behind the Orange in what is a very crowded race for the top spot in the Big East.  Seven teams currently sit two games or less out of first place.

UConn’s strength derives from its backcourt. Shabazz Napier (17.2 PPG), Ryan Boatright (15.8 PPG), and Omar Calhoun (11.1 PPG) form as formidable a three-guard attack as there is in the league. 

Napier and Boatright each dole out just less than 4.5 assists per contest, and all three guards are excellent free-throw shooters.  If the game is close at the end, advantage Huskies.

In the frontcourt for the Huskies, sophomore DeAndre Daniels averages 10.7 PPG and a team-high 4.8 RPG. No other UConn player scores more than 4.5 PPG.

Rebounding is an area the Orange should be able to control against the Huskies. Syracuse is second in the Big East in rebounding at 40 RPG while UConn is second to last at only 32.5 RPG. Three Syracuse players—C.J. Fair, James Southerland and Rakeem Christmas—all average more rebounds than Daniels does for UConn.  The Orange’s point guard, Michael Carter-Williams, is just slightly behind Daniels at 4.7 RPG.

Carter-Williams, who leads the country in assists with 8.5 per game, will have to take good care of the ball and avoid turnovers that UConn’s three guards will look to turn into points.  By the same token, Syracuse will try to use their size advantage, especially with their guards, to create turnovers in their zone.  The Orange are excellent in transition, so the Huskies must value the ball as well.

Syracuse has won the prior two times they’ve ventured to Connecticut after dropping six straight.  Overall, the Orange have been victorious in only six of the past 15 regular-season matchups.

This is the last meeting between the two foes this year since UConn is ineligible for the Big East tournament.