Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim (35) dribbles during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
- The Syracuse Orange (14-8, 8-7 ACC) host the Clemson Tigers (15-5, 9-5 ACC) Wednesday, March 3
- SU is an NCAA bubble team, while Clemson has won five straight conference games for the first time in 31 years
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Syracuse Orange (14-8, 8-7 ACC), coming off a 72-70 home victory over North Carolina to keep their faint NCAA Tournament hopes alive, host the Clemson Tigers (15-5, 9-5 ACC) Wednesday, March 3 in SU’s regular season finale. Tip is set for 5pm ET at the Carrier Dome.
The Orange are slight favorites against the Tigers before the conference tourney gets underway.
Clemson vs Syracuse Odds
|Clemson||+2.5 (-110)||Off||Ov 135 (-110)|
|Syracuse||-2.5 (-110)||Off||Un 135 (-110)|
Odds taken March 2 at FanDuel
Brad Brownell’s Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the conference — winning five straight — thanks to another standout performance by Aamir Simms against Miami on Saturday.
The team’s leading scorer had 19 points in a 66-58 victory over the Hurricanes. In two wins over the ‘Canes this season, Simms put up 44 points on uber-efficient 18-of-26 shooting. Meantime, the ‘Cuse kept its fading Big Dance hopes on life support with a 72-70 win over North Carolina Monday. Buddy Boeheim had a game-high 26 points.
Peaking at Right Time?
During a mid-January stretch, Clemson lost four of five games. The Tigers got blown out by Duke 79-53 on Jan. 30 and dropped below .500 in league play at 4-5. They could have easily thrown in the towel, But Brownell’s bunch rallied. The Tigers ripped off wins over North Carolina, Syracuse and Georgia Tech (teams they’re now competing with for a possible double-bye in the ACC Tournament) and — following a 12-day COVID pause — have won two more, including that eight-point win over ACC cellar-dweller Miami.
Clemson controls its own destiny with two games remaining. That’s uncommon ground for a program trying to reach the NCAA Tournament for only the third time in Brownell’s 11-year tenure and just the second time in the last nine seasons. Highly motivated, hot and not bad defensively.
“Clemson defensively is filthy good.” – @MarkPacker#ClemsonGRIT pic.twitter.com/8NSFTa6SwU
— Clemson Basketball (@ClemsonMBB) March 1, 2021
The Tigers are rated No. 38 overall by KenPom — good for sixth best in the ACC. But Clemson only allows its opponents 89.4 points over 100 possessions, good for 11th-best in the country and tops in the conference.
This team frustrates teams. Yes, it’s offensively-challenged (ranking 11th out of 15 ACC squads in offensive efficiency), but as the old saying goes, defense wins championships.
Hanging By a Thread
Leave it to the coach’s son to keep Syracuse’s fading Big Dance hopes alive. The junior guard and Orange leading scorer would not let ‘Cuse be denied Monday against UNC, escaping with a two-point win over the Heels.
With their backs against the wall, Syracuse did just enough to neutralize Carolina’s deep stable of big men.
The Tar Heels were plus-20 in rebounding — but had 20 turnovers, shot 38.2% and went 4-of-20 behind the arc. Meantime, the Orange wasn’t lights out from three-point range (going 8-for-27, a 29.6% clip), but it was enough for the near must-win.
After the Orange lost to Georgia Tech over the weekend, Yellow Jackets head coach Josh Pastner said the ‘Cuse were a tournament team, calling it a no-brainer.
If starting forward Quincy Guerrier can go — he was limping in pregame warm-ups and returned at the very end of the game when UNC cut Syracuse’s lead to just two, Syracuse might just be in position to pull off the mild upset at home and make Pastner proclamation a reality.
While Syracuse is 2-7 on the road this season, the Carrier Dome has treated the Orange well — even in the absence of fans. With one game left, Syracuse is 12-1 in Central New York — with the only loss coming in a 63-60 defeat to Pittsburgh nearly two months ago. Since then, SU has won seven straight at home, including one over then-No. 16 Virginia Tech.
Back at it. 🍊⚒ pic.twitter.com/JWyhNHAteN
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) March 3, 2021
Meanwhile, four of Clemson’s five losses on the season have come on the road. The only loss at home was to Virginia, one of the best teams in the ACC.
If Syracuse is able to pull off a victory Wednesday, it lends more credence to the notion that not having to travel has been a major factor for the team this year.
Let’s also not forget this is a revenge game for the Orange (Clemson won the season’s first matchup 78-61 on Feb. 6) and it’s Senior Night. The intangibles have me playing Syracuse in this spot.
The pick: Syracuse -2.5 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.