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Hoops Q&A Preview: Clemson at Syracuse

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Clemson heads to Cuse to show the Yankees what a real basketball school looks like.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson heads to Syracuse on Saturday to play the Orange, and are looking to put a cherry on their ACC Sunday. Syracuse is just looking for a team to put them out of their season long misery, and Clemson is poised to deliver the coup de grace to a reeling Orange.

Clemson doesn’t have much to gain, and seeding to lose on Saturday. A win over a 7-10 Syracuse team doesn’t mean much, but a loss could drop the Tigers down a seed in the NCAA tournament. I generally don’t follow anything that comes out of the North East, so I asked James Szuba of Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician what the deal is with Syracuse.

Syracuse is looking at missing the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons. I was a Purdue fan at the end of the Keady era, and the overwhelming sentiment among the fan base was that Gene could coach as long as he wanted, but we all hoped he wouldn’t want to coach much longer. Have you guys reached that point with Boeheim yet, or is their still optimism that he can get Cuse back to the promised land?

Well, part of the fan base has been calling for Boeheim’s head for years which doesn’t quite make much rational sense. I’d say there’s a divide but with a top recruiting class coming in next year and everyone back, the program is expected to be on an upswing. Syracuse should be back in familiar territory next season.

Syracuse is currently on a three-game skid after putting together a solid stretch at the start of February. Are you guys out of gas?

Entirely. Frank, Tyus and Oshae all log close to 40 minutes per game and nobody outside of that has proven they can score on a consistent basis. The roster has been depleted beyond measure.

The defense, on average, still seems to be working, but the offense has struggled quite a bit this season. What’s going on with the offense?

There are two scorers on this team in Tyus and Oshae. Frank is traditionally a pass first player who has been forced to make plays and score the ball for us all season. Simply put, Syracuse isn’t working with much to begin with and the offense under Jim Boeheim plays second fiddle to the primary focus of zone D.

Other than scoring more points than Clemson, what does Syracuse have to do to pull the upset on Saturday?

Make a deal with the devil.

Why has Syracuse suffered such incredible roster attrition over the last few seasons?

It’s been a myriad of factors including but not limited to: early NBA departures, recruiting misses that resulted in transfers, graduation, dissatisfied playing time and a limited scholarship allotment post NCAA sanctions.

Tyus Battle has far and away been your best player this season. Tell me a little about his game.

He can really do it all and burn you from all three levels. He’s a dynamic scorer that can mix it up from long range, hitting the pull up and taking it to the rack. He’s best suited attacking the basket and finishing at the rim but he can shoot it well enough to keep the defense honest. You just have to pick your poison with Tyus and hope to contain him.

How do you see this thing playing out?

You don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict Clemson coming into the Dome and winning, but Syracuse should give it a good effort. The Orange will play hard but Clemson should be able to have some success from the perimeter and win by a few possessions.

Clemson has a chance on Saturday to head to the dome and punish Syracuse for their transgressions on the football field. I honestly have no idea if Syracuse is going to show up and play (they didn’t against Duke) but if they do, the 2-3 zone and Tyus Battle could give the Tigers a few issues. That said, as long as Clemson plays reasonable well, they should come away with the victory (That’s actually a strange sentence to type).