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Beat writers predict a tough start to ACC play for Syracuse against Virginia Tech

first_img Published on December 30, 2017 at 8:46 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Sam Fortier (12-1)The word “Hokie”Virginia Tech 70, Syracuse 67Blistering offense meets stalwart defense. This game is a toss-up, but Virginia Tech’s balanced scoring — five players averaging double-digit scoring numbers — and the likely absence of half of Syracuse’s crucial center rotation nudges this matchup in the Hokies’ favor. That said, center Paschal Chukwu could build off his career game against Eastern Michigan (15 points, 11 rebounds) and compensate but it’ll be more difficult against 6-foot-10, 252-pound Hokies center Kerry Blackshear. The Orange could escape teams like Buffalo when it had to piecemeal that inside presence, but the Hokies are different.Matthew Gutierrez (12-1)Technical difficultiesVirginia Tech 82, Syracuse 67Remember last year, when the Hokies exploited the interior of Syracuse’s zone in Blacksburg for an 83-73 win? All it did was foreshadow several weeks of Syracuse’s road woes. While the Orange gets VT at home this season, the result will be the same. VT can spin the ball inside and score from multiple areas of the court. Not to mention that the Hokies beat Washington on a neutral floor and nearly beat Kentucky. Count this as a win for the Hokies.Tomer Langer (12-1)Wake-up callVirginia Tech 76, Syracuse 68AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange has jetted off to its best nonconference start since the 2013-2014 season. Syracuse has done so by flashing a much stronger defense than it had a year ago. Still, this team has shown some clear flaws, namely in its oftentimes stagnant and predictable offense. The two schools have played each other closely in recent years and this season’s matchup should be no different. And as strong as SU is on defense this year, VT might even be better on offense, as the Hokies rank first in the country in effective field goal percentage, per Kenpom.com. VT is ranked as the second-best team Syracuse has played at home so far this season, other than Maryland. But Maryland’s core players were all younger than VT’s, and when the Terrapins came to the Dome it was their third game in four nights. If Syracuse can play lock-down defense and squeeze just enough out on offense, then it’ll have a chance. I don’t think the offense will do enough, though. Commentslast_img read more

Sarri uses Napoli formula to ignite Chelsea’s title bid

first_imgCarpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award LATEST STORIES Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil ‘Mia’: Rom-com with a cause a career-boosting showcase for Coleen Garcia Raptors go west, Kawhi Leonard back to Oracle where so much changed No.13 lucky for Orlando Bloom “We wanted to try with Eden because, for the first time, there was the possibility to play in counterattacks,” Sarri said. “Hazard, Pedro and Willian are really very suitable for this kind of playing, so I think it’s a normal choice. I think that it’s really a very good option.”Whether Sarri opts to use this approach against teams who, unlike City, sit back and defend remains to be seen. It seems ideal for away games — a trip to Brighton is next for Chelsea — and matches against big rivals at home.Giroud and Morata have alternated as the classic target man for Chelsea this season but neither striker has done enough to make the position their own. Morata, in particular, has struggled in his second season in England, with Sarri having said the Spain striker was mentally fragile.Two years ago, it was Conte’s switch to a three-man backline that was the catalyst for a 13-game winning run that blew away its rivals and saw the team cruise to the title.Chelsea is eight points behind first-place Liverpool ahead of a kind schedule of games over the busy festive period in England.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Japeth Aguilar embraces role, gets rewarded with Finals MVP plum Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, right, and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva fight for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London, Saturday Dec. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)A midseason tactical switch sparked Chelsea’s surge to the Premier League title two years ago under Antonio Conte.Could the same happen under his successor this season?ADVERTISEMENTcenter_img It was a tough weekend for strikers in general in the Premier League.City looked increasingly rudderless at Stamford Bridge without the injured Sergio Aguero and the dropped Gabriel Jesus as Pep Guardiola’s side fell to its first loss of the season. Tottenham went with winger Son Heung-min over the rested Harry Kane or his backup, Fernando Llorente, for its 2-0 win at Leicester. Wolverhampton Wanderers deployed a front three of attacking midfielders in their 2-1 victory at Newcastle.Then there was Liverpool, who started Mohamed Salah as the focal point of its attack against Bournemouth — as opposed to Roberto Firmino — and was rewarded with hat trick from the Egypt forward.The general trend in the English top flight has been for teams to play with one conventional striker up front in recent years but that is being ripped up in a bid for more fluidity and to better stretch defenses.LUKAKU RECOVERSOne of the few strikers to enjoy the weekend was Romelu Lukaku, who was among Manchester United’s scorers in a 4-1 win over Fulham.The Belgium international now has two goals in three league games as he looks to shrug off a slump in form that saw him go the previous 12 games without scoring for his club.Lukaku said he he’d had “good conversations” with United manager Jose Mourinho in recent days because he had not been playing with enough aggression or intensity. He attributed that to bulking up too much at the World Cup in Russia.“When you are in the Premier League, I cannot play with the same amount of muscle as international football here in the Prem(ier League),” Lukaku said. “That was something that when I came back I knew straightaway, ‘No, no, I cannot play in this style like this.’“I had to lose muscle basically, yes. So you just stay out of the gym, drink a lot of water, and a lot of vegetables and fish and it helps.” Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ After winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? For the first time in his debut season at Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri deployed a lineup without a genuine striker for the match against Manchester City on Saturday. The result? A 2-0 win over the previously unbeaten leaders that brought Chelsea back into contention for the title.Sarri has previous experience here.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissAt Napoli, he used diminutive winger Dries Mertens as a makeshift center forward, flanked by two small guys in Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon in a fluid, mobile front three. Mertens responded with 46 goals in two seasons, Napoli was one of the most thrilling teams to watch in Europe, and Sarri’s side almost ended Juventus’ domination of Serie A.Against City, Sarri dropped Alvaro Morata from the squad, left fellow striker Olivier Giroud on the bench and started with Eden Hazard as the so-called “false nine” with Willian and Pedro Rodriguez on either side. Hazard struggled at first — he was seen throwing his arms out in despair at times — but grew into the role and finished the game with two assists. View commentslast_img read more