Our beat writers unanimously pick Syracuse to bounce back against Georgia Tech

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Syracuse lost its seventh game of the season against No. 17 Miami on Monday night, blowing an 11-point second-half lead in the 82-78 loss. Judah Mintz, for one of the first times all season, struggled, finishing with more turnovers (five) than points (three). Jesse Edwards had a career-high 25 points and his 11 rebounds gave him his ninth double-double of the season. The loss was the Orange’s third in Atlantic Coast Conference play this season, following the two-point loss against Pitt in late December and the seven-point one at Virginia on Jan. 7.

Next up for SU is Georgia Tech, which sits at 8-10 and has lost four consecutive games. The Yellow Jackets are second-to-last in the ACC at 1-7 in conference play, above only 0-7 Louisville. Last season, Syracuse and GT played an overtime thriller in the Dome, with the Orange coming out on top, 74-73, behind a combined 35 points from Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim.

Here’s what our beat writers predict will happen when Syracuse and Georgia Tech square off in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon:

Anish Vasudevan (16-3)
Yellow Jackets won’t sting
Syracuse 72, Georgia Tech 66

The Yellow Jackets are hungry for a win, but their appetite will most likely last through the weekend. Georgia Tech defeated Miami, but that was only because of its 3-point defense, holding the Hurricanes to 27% from 3-point range in the first half. SU doesn’t need to rely on the 3-ball to defeat lesser teams and this matchup has the makings of another career performance from Edwards.

The biggest challenge for Syracuse will be battling for rebounds on the defensive end. The Orange had Miami figured out until it started to attack Edwards head-on, forcing other players to help on the glass – and at times, the help never came. The Yellow Jackets average 11.6 offensive rebounds per game, so SU’s forwards will need to step up and fill in for Edwards down low when he’s taken out of his optimal spot right in front of the basket.

Mintz should rebound from a disastrous final few minutes against Miami where he had multiple untimely turnovers. Georgia Tech isn’t as good at turning the ball over with a defensive turnover percentage that’s ranked 294th nationally. Expect Mintz to make minimal mistakes and lead SU to its third road conference win of the year.

Connor Smith (17-2)
No buzzkill
Syracuse 70, Georgia Tech 67
Syracuse seems to keep getting lucky with playing ACC teams who are in the midst of a dry spell, first with Virginia Tech (who had lost four straight) and then with Notre Dame (losers of three of four). Now on Saturday, the Orange face Georgia Tech, which has lost four in a row.

The Yellow Jackets are a bad 3-point shooting team (32.2%, 251st nationally per KenPom) and aren’t a good rebounding team, either. That gives SU a clear path to victory — keep GT playing perimeter-oriented basketball and rely on Edwards to clean up the glass inside.

Syracuse’s forwards will need to play better than they did on Monday, when Chris Bell struggled to hit shots and Maliq Brown didn’t make the impact he had in his previous three games. The Orange will also have to shoot better from beyond the arc (they went 6-of-20 against the Hurricanes) and get out to a good start, which this team has struggled to do. Saturday is a good opportunity to bounce back from Monday’s loss and continue the momentum that has propelled the Orange into the upper echelon of the ACC standings.

Anthony Alandt (13-6)
Rising to the top
Syracuse 85, Georgia Tech 71

With a win and a few key losses over the next few days, Syracuse could find itself entertaining the top-third of the ACC standings. A win against Miami on the road would have been a terrific boost to a season that is heading in a surprisingly positive direction, but lack of experience — especially from Mintz — got in the way once again. Luckily for the Orange, Georgia Tech currently stands as one of the worst teams in the conference, with only a surprise win over Miami to its name.

The Yellow Jackets are a terrible 3-point shooting team and allow opponents to shoot 50% from inside the arc, playing right into Syracuse’s hands. They also aren’t the most experienced team, which will help the Orange, especially down the stretch in their second-straight road game. SU still needs to get formidable performances from its bench — especially Brown — in order to put away Georgia Tech. It could be a get-right game for Edwards and make Benny Williams’ bad performance against Miami an aberration.

Our beat writers unanimously pick Syracuse to bounce back against Georgia Tech

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