Our beat writers unanimously pick Syracuse vs. Georgia Tech

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

Next is Georgia Tech, who is 8-10 and has lost four straight. The Yellow Jackets are 1-7 in ACC conference play behind 0-7 Louisville, second to last. Last season, Syracuse and GT played an overtime thriller in the Dome, where the Orange came out on top, 74-73, behind a combined 35 points from Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim.

Here’s what our beat writers are predicting when Syracuse and Georgia Tech square off in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon.

Anish Vasudevan (16-3)
Yellow jackets don’t sting.
Syracuse 72, Georgia Tech 66

The Yellow Jackets will be hungry for a win, but their appetite will last through the weekend. Georgia Tech beat Miami, but that was only because of 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 beat smaller teams and this matchup has another career performance from Edwards.

Syracuse’s biggest challenge will be struggling to rebound on defense. The Orange knew Miami by forcing other players to help on the glass until it started attacking Edwards head-on — and sometimes the help never came. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 11.6 offensive rebounds per game, so SU’s forwards will have to step up and fill Edwards down low when he’s out of good position in front of the basket.

Mintz has to bounce back from a concussion in the final minutes against Miami, where he made several unexpected changes. Georgia Tech is not good at turning the ball over with a defensive turnover percentage that ranks 294th nationally. Expect Mintz to make minimal mistakes and SU to win its third road conference of the year.

Connor Smith (17-2)
No buzzkill
Syracuse 70, Georgia Tech 67
Sirac seems to be getting lucky playing ACC teams in dry spells, first at Virginia Tech (lost four straight) and then at Notre Dame (lost three of four). The Orange now face Georgia Tech, which has lost four in a row, on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets are a bad 3-point shooting team (32.2%, 251st nationally per KenPom) and not 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 the glass inside.

Syracuse’s forwards will need to play better than they did on Monday, with Chris Bell struggling to make shots and Malik Brown not having the impact he’s had over the past three games. The Orange need to shoot better from beyond the arc (they went 6-of-20 against the Hurricanes) and get off to the good start this team has struggled to make. Saturday is a great opportunity to bounce back from Monday’s loss and continue the momentum that has lifted the Orange into the top rung of the ACC standings.

Anthony Allant (13-6)
Climbing up
Syracuse 85, Georgia Tech 71

With a win over the next few days and a few key losses, Syracuse can take a third out of the top three of the ACC rankings. A win on the road against Miami would have been a great boost to a season that was trending in an incredibly positive direction, but inexperience — especially from Mentz — got in the way again. Fortunately for the Orange, Georgia Tech currently stands as one of the worst teams in the conference, with only an impressive win over Miami to its name.

The Yellow Jackets are a formidable 3-point shooting team and allow opponents to shoot 50% from beyond the arc, playing into Syracuse’s hands. What helps the Orange, especially in their second-straight road game, is that they are not a highly experienced team. SU still needs to get impressive performances from the bench — especially Brown — to avoid Georgia Tech. It could be the perfect game for Edwards and make Bennie Williams’ poor performance against Miami a disaster.


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