Syracuse vs. Indiana College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Eye the Total at Carrier Dome
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- Indiana travels to the Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
- The Hoosiers have one loss -- to St. John's at home.
- Charlie Disturco breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.
Syracuse vs. Indiana Odds
+100o / -120u
+100o / -120u
The Syracuse Orange ended the Battle 4 Atlantis with more questions than answers after losing in the opening round to VCU and eventually ending their tournament trip with a 21-point loss to Auburn. It all came right after SU was shocked by Colgate on its home floor.
Looking to right the ship on Tuesday night, Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome to welcome the blistering hot Indiana Hoosiers as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Indiana is undefeated through six games, most recently taking down Marshall on the back of Trayce Jackson-Davis’ 43 points. The Hoosiers have covered three straight under former NBA and now IU head coach Mike Woodson.
Will Syracuse’s struggling 2-3 zone bounce back and create issues for Indiana’s offense, which runs through big man Jackson-Davis? Or will the Orange’s losing woes continue in what sets up to be a down-to-the-wire matchup?
We’re nearly a month into the Woodson era at Indiana and there’s been nothing but positivity surrounding the Hoosiers. After years of mediocrity under Archie Miller, it seems that Indiana should hold its own in a stacked Big Ten this season.
Indiana has yet to lose a game — granted, just one of the six has come against a team ranked inside the KenPom top 100 — and boasts one of the deepest rosters the program has had in years.
Jackson-Davis is the star of this Hoosiers team. The 6-foot-9 big made a surprise return to Indiana instead of testing the NBA draft waters and currently averages 20.5 points per game.
Pittsburgh transfer Xavier Johnson has transitioned nicely to IU and runs the point for Woodson. He’s the most experienced player when it comes to breaking down the 2-3 zone from his three seasons in the ACC.
While Johnson hasn’t done a ton of damage against SU from the field, he did score 23 points on 13-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line in a 20-point win over Syracuse last January.
The offense has been effective through six games. The offense will run through Jackson-Davis and Johnson, but IU has plenty of other weapons that can hurt you. That includes Miller Kopp, Parker Stewart and Tamar Bates — all solid shooters — while Race Thompson’s strength and athleticism gives IU another option inside the paint.
The one area where IU has struggled has been in the turnover department, where it ranks 257th, per KenPom. The Hoosiers average 15.3 turnovers per game and will have to now break down a 2-3 zone that normally thrives on forcing turnovers and pushing transition.
But where this Hoosiers team is most dominant comes on the defensive side of the ball. They are 19th in defending the 3-ball and boast the best 2-point defense in the country, per KenPom. The latter is a byproduct of Thompson and Jackson-Davis’ physicality and athleticism.
From an overall roster standpoint, Indiana has enough talent to make a Big Ten championship run. The Hoosiers have a deep roster, which allows Woodson to adjust on a night-to-night basis.
Once again, Syracuse is an enigma. The Orange snuck into the NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed last year and made their patented run to the Sweet 16 on the back of the 2-3 zone.
But this defense is not the same as last year. The athleticism of the team has thinned out with the transfers of Quincy Guerrier and Kadary Richmond. Alan Griffin and Marek Dolezaj pursued professional aspirations instead of returning for another season.
The bright spot of this team — if there is one amid a disastrous 3-3 start — is the offense. There’s no question whether this team can score or not. Syracuse ranks 20th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom, and shoots 38.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The same backcourt returns from last season and Buddy Boeheim has picked up right where he left off, leading the team in scoring (20 PPG). Point guard Joe Girard III has seen improvement offensively, too, but has struggled in the turnover department.
But the X-factors for this roster have been and will continue to be Jimmy Boeheim (Cornell) and Cole Swider (Villanova). They can provide an offensive spark and give SU other viable options when Buddy struggles.
Their biggest weaknesses, however, has been the narrative of Syracuse in 2021: defense. The Orange rank 289th in defending the 3 and 284th in opponent turnover percentage.
They gave up 100 points in a loss to Colgate and have been physically dominated by both VCU and Auburn. Outside of freshman Benny Williams, defensive intensity is at a minimum.
This is not the same team from last season — nowhere close to it. Expect a tumultuous season for the Orange where some nights the offense will carry the team to victory. Others, the defense won’t stop a nose bleed and Syracuse will stumble.
Indiana vs. Syracuse Betting Pick
This line initially opened in favor of Syracuse but has since been hammered in the opposite direction of Indiana. The Hoosiers have yet to play a road game this season and it’ll be their first true test in a raucous environment not in their favor.
While Indiana should be short favorites in this matchup — Syracuse has been an utter mess and the 2-3 zone has been anything but effective — I think this matchup will come down to the wire and could go either way.
The Orange will look to limit Jackson-Davis as much as possible in the paint and force the quartet of Johnson, Stewart, Kopp and Bates to beat them via the 3.
While I do think Indiana does break the 70-point barrier once again — it has in all games but the season opener (68) — this is a game where Syracuse’s offense should get right.
Even with Indiana’s defense ranking inside the top 20 in adjusted efficiency and both 3-point and 2-point defense, negative regression is due. Outside of St. John’s, the Hoosiers have played five teams that average out at 235.4 in KenPom’s power rankings.
When they played St. John’s? There were 150 total points.
As the spread indicates, this is a true 50-50 game with a slight advantage to the Hoosiers. But where I see a slight edge comes in the total. Both teams rank inside the top 100 in average possession length and I think both teams will try to push the pace and should score relatively easily.
Back the over in Tuesday night’s Big Ten-ACC showdown.
Pick: Over 144.5
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