Syracuse basketball has dealt with it all of late, but now it's time to just play basketball. And what a way to get things cranked up in the Carrier Dome.
The ninth-ranked Gators are in town, eager to prove that it's sole loss of the season to Ohio State was not the start of a trend against elite competition.
For the Orange, it will be its first true test against a top-notch opponent. The squad enters the contest 7-0 after taking home the NIT Season Tip-Off after a pair of wins at Madison Square Garden. At the height of the Bernie Fine scandal, SU routed Eastern Michigan 84-48.
Florida has arguably the best guard combination in the country with Erving Walker an Kenny Boykin. The pair of speedsters won't hesitate to shoot the open jumper, though they prefer to slash and create inside. That puts the onus on Fab Melo, Baye Moussa Keita, Rakeem Christmas and the rest of the Syracuse big men inside the 2-3 zone. The unit must deny penetration better than it has of late, or the Orange will be in for a back-and-fourth affair.
Players to Watch
For the Gators, Walker is the main concern. After witnessing how Aaron Bright and Darrell Lampley dissected the zone with speed an quickness - not to mention the ability to get going on the outside - Walker is easily the biggest threat on the floor. Florida has several good players and shooters, but not many with the talent of the 5-foot-8 Walker.
For the Orange, the time may be now for Dion Waiters to make a splash in front of a national audience. He will get a chance to check in early on in all likelihood, an will have an advantage in athleticism no matter which guard stands in front of him.
Should be a fun one!