Syracuse vs. Texas Tech Preview

RaiderPower.com previews this matchup of coaching legends Bob Knight and Jim Boeheim. Both Texas Tech and Syracuse have advanced to the semi-finals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and will face off today at 8 PM CST on ESPN.

Once again it's that great time of the year when you have tons of great college football and tons of great college basketball. Late season football and early season basketball provide us with big-time games to watch every night. Thursday a young Texas Tech team faces their first test when they travel to Madison Square Garden to meet Syracuse. Talk about a coaching match up, Bob Knight vs. Jim Boeheim, doesn't get much better than that. Which coaching style will prevail? The fundamentally sound man defense used by Knight, or the famous match up zone employed by Boeheim? The two teams have had similar starts to the season; each won their first game big and followed it up with a lackluster win against lesser competition.

The Red Raiders and Orangemen also have similar leaders, dynamic point guards Jay Jackson and Gerry McNamara. Jackson has been his usual self this season, averaging 17.5 points per-game while showing an uncanny ability to get to the basket. McNamara, on the other hand, is struggling to find the range early on. Normally deadly from behind the arc, this season McNamara is a dismal 1-14 from deep. This could be a big one on one match up in this game, but I think sophomore Martin Zeno may draw some of the defensive duty on McNamara.

On the inside for the Orange, 6'9 228 pound forward Terrance Roberts is doing everything he can to fill the big shoes left by Hakim Warrick. Roberts is averaging a double-double at 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Tech has enjoyed a balanced attack down low with the inside-outside game of forward Daryl Dora and junior college transfer John Plefka. Both players are averaging 10 points per contest and Plefka is averaging seven rebounds as well.

That's what they've done so far, this is what they'll do tonight. Tech traditionally struggles against a quality zone defense, it will be up to Jay Jackson and newcomer Terry Martin to connect on some three's, and open up the floor for the screens and cuts of the motion offense that Tech leading scorer Martin Zeno thrives on. If the guards can't connect from deep, Syracuse will sit back in the zone causing Tech to take contested shots late in the shot clock. Syracuse will certainly need Gerry McNamara to come alive against the talented Red Raider backcourt, if the Orange can't find more balance on offense they could be in trouble. Neither team has faced a true test, Thursday night will tell us a lot more about both squads.


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