Tuesday, November 25, 2008

GameNight Preview, Nov. 25

CBE Classic Final: No. 22 Kansas vs. Syracuse

In a rematch of the 2003 NCAA Tournament title game, tonight’s CBE Classic championship will pit Kansas (3-0) and Syracuse (4-0) against each other in a contest between two of the last six national title winners. Both teams are undefeated and were thought of as borderline top-25 teams heading into the season. The Jayhawks lost seven of their top nine players from last season, yet have won their first three games by an average of almost 25 points per game, including a surprising thrashing of Washington in last night’s semifinal. Syracuse is looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament, and the Orange are off to a good start, winning their first four games, including last night’s victory over No. 18 Florida.

Kansas is led by its two main returnees from last season, guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich. They are the only two double-figure scorers on the roster, and control the perimeter and paint, respectively. Besides those two and guards Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar, the rest of the rotation is newcomers. Guards Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford see time on the perimeter, while the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus, and Quintrell Thomas anchor the frontcourt. On the other side, an experienced Syracuse side has four double-figure scorers and plenty of offensive options. Jonny Flynn is one of the best point guards in the country, while Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins seem fully recovered from their injuries that kept them out most of last season. Paul Harris is one of the most versatile players in the country at forward. Arinze Onuaku is a load to handle down low.

Both teams are trying to get back somewhere – Kansas to the Final Four and Syracuse to the NCAA Tournament. Each is off to a good start, but one will fall short here. The Jayhawks are a young group that is still getting their feet wet in college, while the Orange have plenty of experience and talent. Tonight, that experience will make the difference, despite the fact Syracuse’s defense was torched by Florida all night in the semifinals; Kansas simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower to take advantage of the Orange’s deficiency.

WINNER: Syracuse MARGIN: 4-6

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