Syracuse entering Gotham Classic

For the month of December, the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team will be playing various match-ups within the umbrella of the Gotham Classic. Learn about the opponents inside.

The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team are entering into a non-conference season event entitled the "Gotham Classic".

After beginning the 2012-13 season 8-0, including six home wins, the Orange will play host to three of their four games in the classic and play their other match in their home-away-from-home at Madison Square Garden.

Here is a look at the team's they will be facing:

Canisius College – Saturday, December 15th, at the Carrier Dome

The Golden Griffins come out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Last season, they finished in last place among the conference's 10 teams with a conference record of 1-17. Canisius struggled, winning a total of five of their 30 match-ups.

They have already won more games this season than they did all last season with their biggest help in scoring coming from their veterans. Senior guard Harold Washington and junior guard Billy Baron are both averaging more than 17 points per game.

Washington has also been superb from beyond the arc, making more than half of the three-pointers that he attempts.

An interesting note on the Golden Griffins is that their roster includes brothers. Josiah Heath has been with Canisius since he began his collegiate career last season. His brother Jordan, however, is currently on the court as a Golden Griffin for the first time after sitting out last season as a result of him transferring from Roberts Wesleyan College.

Josiah made a name for himself as a freshman by grabbing more rebounds than any other rookie in the MAAC last season.

Canisius has not advanced from the regular season to the NCAA Tournament since 1996. Overall, the Golden Griffins have been to the tournament four times, with their other three appearances coming in succession from 1955 through 1957.

University of Detroit Mercy – Monday, December 17th, at the Carrier Dome

The Titans call the Horizon League home. Last season, they finished third in the conference, with a record of 11-7, tying them with now nationally-known Butler University. Overall, Detroit ended the 2011-12 campaign with a respectable record of 22-14.

Detroit has struggled some coming out of the gate, residing by the equator line between wins and losses this season.

They have already faced the Big East Conference, that Syracuse calls home for this final season, losing in both of their matches versus the conference to St. John's University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Four players have been averaging double-figures for the Titans so far. Each of these players, guards Ray McCallum and Jason Calliste and forwards Nick Minnerath and Doug Anderson, are either juniors or seniors, showing the veteran leadership that Detroit has relied on this season.

Detroit has advanced from the regular season to the NCAA Tournament a total of six times, including last season. They have attained a place in the tournament in every decade dating back to the 60s, except during the 80s (1962, 1977, 1979, 1998, 1999, and 2012).

Temple University – Saturday, December 22nd, at Madison Square Garden

The Owls, despite playing their football in the Big East Conference, are an Atlantic-10 member on the hard court. Last season, the Owls were perched atop the conference after finishing the regular season with a 13-3 record. Overall, Temple kept their losses under double-digits in 2011-12, ending with a 24-8 record.

Temple has played well against unranked opponents, but in their only match versus a team ranked in the nation's top 25, the Owls lost to the Blue Devils of Duke University by more than 20.

The team has already gotten a taste of the Big East Conference, defeating Villanova University on the road, 76-61.

Veterans reside at the top for the Owls in scoring, with seniors guard/forward Scootie Randall and guard Khalif Wyatt averaging double-figures on the season.

Sophomore Anthony Lee has stepped up for the young talent of the team, also averaging double-figures on a roster that is split pretty evenly between veterans and young talent.

Temple has had a long storied history in the NCAA Tournament, dating back to their first appearance in 1944. They have advanced to the tournament 30 times, including 12-straight berths from 1990 to 2001. After a drought between 2002 and 2007, the Owls returned to the tournament in 2008 and have not left, making the postseason party in all of the last five seasons.

They have two berths in the Final Four, but have yet to win a championship.

Alcorn State University – Saturday, December 29th, at the Carrier Dome

The Braves hail from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Last season, they finished in seventh place in the conference out of 10 teams, with a record of 6-12. They did not receive much help playing out-of-conference opponents, winning a mere four games to end the season with an overall record of 10-22.

Alcorn State has gotten off to a slow start this season, having trouble advancing to wins early on. Scoring has been a factor in their early losses, as the Braves have failed to attain the 60-point mark in five games this season.

Syracuse will be the second opponent Alcorn State will face that is ranked in the nation's top 25. The Braves lost to the Tigers of Missouri by more than 30 points in their second week of this season.

On the positive side for the Braves, they have three players averaging double-figures in points in the 2012-13 campaign, all from the backcourt in guards Anthony Evans, LeAntwan Luckett, and Anthony Nieves.

But the remainder of the team, including the frontcourt, has struggled to get the ball in the cylinder, hence why the team is having an issue with elevating their scoring on a consistent basis.

Alcorn State's last season that resulted in an NCAA Tournament appearance was back in 2002, the only time they advanced to the tournament in the 21st century. Before then, the Braves had four appearances in the 80s (1980, 1982, 1983, and 1984) and once in the 90s (1999).


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