The Opening Tip: Hawkeyes Head to Syracuse for ACC/B1G Challenge

December 2, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa continues its march through seven consecutive Power 5 opponents with a trip to a historic college basketball venue Tuesday night. The Hawkeyes will face Syracuse at the Carrier Dome as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

TIME, TV: 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2 with Bob Wischusen and Jon Crispin on the call.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 5-2, while Syracuse sits at 4-3.

POINT SPREAD: Syracuse was listed as a four-point favorite by William Hill Monday.

HISTORY LESSON: Iowa leads the all-time series against Syracuse, 2-1. The Hawkeyes won the first two meetings in 1957 (58-52) and 1980 (88-77), while the Orange won the last contest played between the two teams in 2014 (66-63). All three previous meetings were contested on neutral courts. Tuesday will be Iowa’s first ever visit to the Carrier Dome.

SCOUTING ‘CUSE Much like the Texas Tech outfit the Hawkeyes faced in Vegas last week wasn’t the team that reached the national championship game in April, these Orangemen won’t make anyone forget Carmelo Anthony or Pearl Washington. It’s their worst start to a season since the ’96-97 team also began 4-3.

Their four wins have come against Colgate (129 Sagarin), Seattle (287), Cornell (278) and Bucknell (231), all at home. They’ve lost to Virginia (7), Oklahoma State (15) and Penn State (23). The latter two setbacks came at the NIT Season Tip-Off last week in Brooklyn by an average of 17.5 points.

The Nittany Lions out-rebounded Syracuse, 57-28, Friday. Their big men created foul trouble for the Orange post players.

Junior Elijah Hughes (6-6, 215) leads the squad in scoring at 19.0 points per game. Sophomore Buddy Boeheim, the son of longtime head coach Jim Boeheim, chips in with 13.4. They have 43 three-pointers between them.

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A relatively inexperienced Syracuse outfit lost talented guard Jalen Carey to thumb surgery. He started the first two games before suffering the injury.

The Orangemen are not a deep team. They play 7-8 guys regularly.

KEYS FOR HAWKEYES: Syracuse is known for its tricky 2-3 matchup zone that’s holding opponents to 62.7 points per game this season. The Hawkeyes must read and react. Ball and player movement is important against this defense.

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On the other end, Iowa has to guard the three-point line, especially against Hughes, who is shooting at a 40.4 percent clip from behind the arc. Boeheim and Joseph Girard also will launch it from deep.


– Syracuse ranks 25th in Division I and second in the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.268).

-Jim Boeheim is in the midst of his 44th season as head coach at his alma mater, Syracuse. He earned the 950th win of his coaching tenure when the Orange defeated Bucknell on Nov. 23.

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-The Orange will take part in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the seventh time. Syracuse has an all-time record of 3-3 in the event. Last season, the Orange traveled to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State. The ‘Cuse trailed by two at halftime but rallied in the second half and posted a 72-62 win against the 16th-ranked Buckeyes.

-Iowa is 6-12 in ACC/Big Ten Challenge games, notching five of its six Challenge wins at home. The lone road victory came at nationally-ranked North Carolina (60-55) in 2015.

-Iowa’s Fran McCaffery has coached at Syracuse three previous times, in 2002 while head coach of UNC Greensboro and in 2005 and 2007 as Siena’s head coach.

-Over the next six weeks, Iowa will play games in three different time zones, seven different states, and travel 8,362 total miles.

Iowa is in the middle of a stretch playing eight of 10 games away from Iowa City. The Hawkeyes will play six of seven contests against teams who finished in the Top 100 of the NCAA NET Ranking a year ago from Nov. 28 to Dec. 21 (Texas Tech, Syracuse, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa State, and Cincinnati).

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