Detroit vs Syracuse NCAA Hoops – Free Pick Dec 17

There will be a shakeup in the polls today, as Indiana will likely tumble a fistful of spots after their neutral court loss to unranked Butler (who will no longer be “unranked” Butler, I am sure…) and #4 Florida taking their first loss of the season on the road at Arizona.

What to do with the Gators will be interesting.  Of course they will drop in the polls, but it seems a bit harsh to drop them more than a spot or two.  They controlled that game for 39 minutes before two costly turnovers in the final minute allowed Arizona and senior transfer Mark Lyons to literally steal one in the final seconds.  Losing on the road at the buzzer to a Top 10 team in a true road game should hurt you too much, but you can bet Billy Donovan and his Gator were kicking themselves the whole long place ride home.

Detroit Titans at Syracuse Orange -19

It is another pretty desolate week of college hoops matchups, but there is at least a televised game on ESPN tonight, and a game, that while it might not be competitive, does have a few intriguing plotlines.

For Syracuse, Coach Boeheim continues to close in on his 900th win, putting him in a class with only Bobby Knight and Coach K – pretty elite company.  ESPN is using the Boeheim angle to market this game, but they should also be talking about the fact that very quietly, despite a few high-profile departures to the NBA and graduation, this Syracuse team is a legit national championship contender.  Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams is a Naismith Award contender and has vaulted from “little-used freshman considering transferring” to “NBA Lottery pick.” He is that good.

It’s a good recipe for success; a dynamic 6’7’’ young point guard surrounded by veterans like Brandon Triche, a four-year starter, and a score of big-time talent in Rakeem Christmas and CJ Fair.  The four of them, plus the bench of Syracuse will be way too much for the one-man band in Detriot.

Detroit does have one legit pro-caliber player, coach’s son Ray McCallum.  He has carried them to wins over decent opponents like Akron, Drake and Toledo, and hung around until the final minute against St. John’s, but he hasn’t faced anything like the smothering, long, lean defense he is going to see tonight.  Expect the ‘Cuse to focus their smothering zone on McCallum and for him to struggle getting clean looks.  He may still get his 20 points, but he’s going to have to take some volume of shots to get them.

That means extra possessions for Syracuse, and quite likely a very comfortable and easy win.

Free Pick:  Syracuse Orange -19

Chris Scheeren / Author