Baylor Personnel: The Bears' leading scorer is 6-0 SO G Henry Dugat, who pours in about 14 pts per contest. Dugat had a team-high 29 points in the win over Colorado State, but since then his scoring has trailed off a bit.
Kevin Rogers, Curtis Jerrells, and Aaron Bruce all join Dugat as double figure scorers. Rogers, a 6-9, 235 lb SO F, is the team's second leading rebounder at over 7 a game. Bruce and Jerrells are both guards who can hit from the perimeter.
In the middle, SO C Mamadou Diene is a formidable defensive presence. At 7-0, 255 lbs, he has the size to bang with Watkins and Roberts. Diene leads the team in rebounding and also blocks more than 3 shots a game, so SU players will have to be aware of him when they take the ball inside. Paul Harris, in particular, has a tendency to get his shot blocked from behind, so he will need to do a good job of recognizing where Diene is on the court.
Overall, the Bears have major conference size with Rogers and Diene, and also have potent scoring from the backcourt and wings. Their team is very young, with only one senior. A majority of their major contributors are sophomores, so they may be a bit intimidated by the Carrier Dome crowd.
Game Outlook: This Baylor team likes to get up and down the court. They put up about 82 points per game, but were slowed down considerably by South Carolina in their recent loss. They may try to change up their strategy against Syracuse to keep the game from getting too up-tempo.
The key things to look for in this game are whether or not a consistent secondary scoring threat can emerge for the Orange, and whether or not they can compete on the boards against a team with Big East-like size on the interior.
Outside of Demetris Nichols, the Orange do not have a single player averaging more than 12 points per contest. This situation must be rectified before Big East play starts. The most likely candidate to fill the secondary scoring roll is SO G Eric Devendorf, but he has recently lost his starting position. It's pretty clear that SOMETHING went on behind-the-scenes, but now it the time for the team to put it behind them and move forward. The sooner that Devendorf can regain his flash and flare on the offensive end, the better.
Expect Baylor to give SU some problems with their size in the starting lineup, but also look for SU to wear down their interior players. Outside of Rogers and Diene, the biggest player who sees significant minutes is F Tim Bush, a 6-6 SR. It wouldn't be surprising to see SU come out of the gate slowly again, so the key will be to make sure that Baylor doesn't get too big of an early lead. Perhaps the second game of the Paul Harris-starting experiment will help SU play with intensity early in the game. Lord knows that would be a welcomed sight.
Prediction: Syracuse overcomes a slow start to win 74-67. Nichols leads the way with 21 points and Devendorf has his best game in a month with 16 off the bench.