Opponent preview: What to know about Niagara

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (7-5, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) will end 2019 by capping its nonconference schedule against Niagara (2-8, 0-0 Atlantic Athletic) at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The Orange have won three of their last four and in their most recent win against North Florida, four starters scored in double figures. Niagara head coach and Syracuse native Greg Paulus returns to the Dome after starting at quarterback for the SU football team in 2009-10. Here’s what to know about the Purple Eagles ahead of the matchup.Gambling Odds: Syracuse is favored by 22 points with the over/under set at 147, per VegasInsider.com.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 53-28Last time they played: On Dec. 30, 2000, the Orange blew out Niagara 95-69 in the Dome. Then the 15th ranked team in the nation, SU rode Damone Brown’s 26 points in the victory. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Niagara report: Niagara underwent a major change two weeks prior to the season’s tipoff. Then-head coach Patrick Beilein stepped away for personal reasons and Paulus, then an assistant coach, had his interim tag removed a day before the Purple Eagles began their season. On the court, it hasn’t gone much smoother for Niagara. The Purple Eagles lost their first five games of the season before beating Norfolk State on Dec. 1. One week later, Niagara toppled Colgate in overtime. Since, the Purple Eagles have lost three straight, including a close defeat to Albany and blowouts against St. Bonaventure and Buffalo. James Towns spearheads a three-pronged offensive attack averaging 15.2 points a game, while Raheem Solomon and Marcus Hammond post 12 and 11.2 points per game, respectively. Overall, however, Niagara posts porous offensive numbers. They rank 170th in effective field goal percentage per Kenpom, converting 32.5% of their 3s and 49.6% of two-pointers. Defensively, the Purple Eagles are worse. They rank outside the top-300 in nearly every metric, including a tenth-worst defensive adjusted efficiency.How Syracuse beats the Purple Eagles: For most of Syracuse’s nonconference games, the recipe has been simple: Exert its talent advantage against an inferior opponent. That statement will never be more true than against Niagara. The Purple Eagles get an inordinate amount of their points from deep (30%) despite shooting the 3 at a lackluster 32.5%. Their most frequent lineup over the last five games features four players 6-foot-3 or shorter and center Nicholas Kratholm is just 6-foot-9. Five-foot-10 point guard James Towns leads the team with 3.7 rebounds per game. This is all to say that Syracuse should be able to limit the Purple Eagles on one end of the court, and score at will on the other. Stat to know: 57.7 — Niagara’s effective field goal percentage, the tenth-worst mark in the country. KenPom odds: Syracuse has a 97% chance to win the game Saturday, with a final score prediction of 82-61 per KenPom.Player to watch: Raheem Solomon, No. 11, guardNiagara’s closest thing to a jack of all trades, the sophomore guard ranks second in points (12 ppg), fourth in 3-point percentage (34.1%) and fifth in rebounds (29). Solomon has also added 12 steals and six blocks while starting all 10 games. In the Purple Eagles most recent game against Buffalo, he swished three 3s and swatted a pair of shots. If there’s a player to give SU fits outside of leading-scorer James Towns, it’ll be Solomon. Comments Published on December 28, 2019 at 1:15 am Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarezlast_img read more