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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