Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim (35) gives a thumbs-up after Syracuse defeated San Diego State 78-62 in a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Friday, March 19, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Syracuse and Drexel face off against each other on Sunday afternoon
Syracuse is coming off a dominant performance to open the season
Read below for analysis and a pick
It’s an under the radar, intriguing contest when Syracuse (1-0) hosts Drexel Sunday at 5pm ET. The game can be seen on ESPN2.
The Orange are coming off an electric offensive performance against Lafayette. It was one that included a 52-point first half.
They shot over 50% from the field each half, over 50% from three, and won by a final score of 97-63.
Syracuse vs Drexel Odds
U 143.5 (-115)
O 143.5 (-105)
Odds taken Nov 13 from FanDuel.
Drexel comes into this matchup off a bit of an oddity. They were scheduled to host Fairleigh Dickinson to start the season. That game was delayed because of FDU travel issues then cancelled. They were a conference darling last season. They ripped off three straight in the Colonial Conference tournament to clinch an NCAA Tournament bid, then lost to one-seeded Illinois.
Boeheim Brothers Starting Strong
It was a special night for Head Coach Jim Boeheim on Tuesday. It was the first time he was able to coach his two sons at Syracuse together.
Buddy Boeheim is in final year at Syracuse. He’s had a terrific career for the Orange and is one of the best spot-up shooters in America. He scored 18 points on Tuesday in the Orange win and got his season off to a strong start. If who he’s been the last three seasons continues to carry over, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t end up on the All-ACC team.
Excellent photos by the always phenomenal @AlexandraMoreo of Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim tonight in Syracuse. pic.twitter.com/mGdRgoQQ6H
— Matthew Gutierrez (@MatthewGut21) December 2, 2018
Buddy’s brother, Jimmy, will be a newcomer this year. He transferred from Cornell this season and traded his primary color from red to orange. With the Big Red, last season, he averaged 16.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He also scored 18 points in his debut against Lafayette.
The story here is a cool one because it’s not often two brothers play on a Power Five program and are coached by their dad. More important thing for Syracuse is the duo is effective on the floor together. So far, so good. Per Pivot Analysis, the pair played 25 minutes together, were a combined +27 and scored 62 points. The competition was lackluster, but if the two can be in the realm of that together, ‘Cuse will be a tough out for anyone they play.
Best College Basketball Betting Promos & Bonuses for Opening Tip
Drexel Should Be Prepared for Zone
We all know the story for Syracuse basketball or “Zombie Syracuse” as they’ve been aptly dubbed over the past few seasons. They stumble through most of their season, sneak into the NCAA Tournament, and then somehow make the second weekend.
Teams see them, their legendary zone defense and look completely bewildered. It also helps when they make shots like they did in the tournament. There they made a staggering 29 threes in their first two games.
The good news for Drexel? They should be at least prepared for the zone.
Sunday’s college basketball assignment in Syracuse will be extra special for @DShulman_ESPN.
Dan will call the Drexel-Cuse game for ESPN… just down press row from his son @benshulman7, a @NewhouseSU student who will be calling the game for @WAERSports. pic.twitter.com/amLzffvxU5
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) November 12, 2021
The Dragons lost two starters off of last year’s team but they returned their stars. Beyond that, the roster is compiled with experienced players who have been around for the program for a while, and this group saw a reasonable amount of zone last year and scored well against it.
Against zone defenses, the Dragons averaged .98 points per possession and shot above 50%. It placed them in the upper third of college basketball in scoring against zone defenses. The Syracuse zone is unique but having some experience against any type of zone is a big plus when facing them.
TJ Bickerstaff could serve as a potential zone buster. His play will be critical for the Dragons. His numbers are limited against zone defenses but they are quite good. He has the unique mobility and body type to score or distribute in the middle. Noting his play early in this one could tell the story of how the game goes.
This is a good matchup for Drexel.
Beyond the zone scoring success, the Dragons are great defending spot-up shooters. Opponents shot just 35% against them last season on spot-up sets, which was one of the best marks in the nation.
Drexel Visits Syracuse on Sunday Evening
Dragons and Orange Play at 5 p.m. on ESPN2
STORY➡️ https://t.co/6d83MuuYx8 pic.twitter.com/6jKIg1Dmqg
— Drexel Men’s Basketball (@DrexelMBB) November 13, 2021
There is always the risk that Buddy Boeheim goes nuclear but that risk is limited here. The best time to face a Syracuse zone is early in the season as they are still sharpening things up. Drexel will have enough success to at least stay in contact with the Orange.
This number opened up at 15.5 on FanDuel and I’ll grab that now. I would play it down to 14 and I’m even going to sprinkle some on the Drexel moneyline (+860).
Prediction: Drexel +15.5 (-104)