Syracuse looked in midseason form in their opening victory over Fordham. Tonight they go for their second consecutive victory when they host Manhattan Jaspers in the NIT Preseason Tipoff at the Carrier Dome. Game time is set for 7:00 PM ET with coverage on ESPN. The winner will take on either Albany or Brown in the second round of the tournament.

The Syracuse Orange (27-8 SU & 15-18 ATS) opened as a -26 point favorite as they try to start the campaign 2-0 for the eighth consecutive year. If Saturday’s impressive showing is any indication then they should get the cover tonight with a little bit left over.

Scoop JardineThe Orange did it with defense last year, ranking third in the Big East in fewest points allowed per game (63.3) and were stingy against Fordham in a 78-53 victory. They held the Rams to 35 percent including 4 of 21 shooting from downtown. They did cover the -24 point spread while the combined 131 points stayed below the total of 140.

Kris Joseph who led the Orange in scoring last season, led the winners with 16 points and will become the 55th player in school history with 1,000 points with his next two buckets. Sophomore guard Dion Waiters came off the bench to net 14 while freshman forward Rakeem Christmas had five points and six rebounds in 20 minutes in his collegiate debut.

 

Pitino influence

Manhattan, from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, won its season-opener for the fifth straight year beating New Jersey Institute of Technology 62-48 in a game carrying no college basketball odds. George Beamon had 15 points and 10 rebounds helping coach Steve Masiello get the victory in his Division I debut. Maisello has big time experience; he was an assistant for Rick Pitino at both Kentucky and Louisville and like his former boss is a firm believer in defense. The Jaspers held NJIT to 37 percent shooting and their full court press resulted in 22 turnovers.

The Jaspers will need to improve on their long distance shooting to have a chance against the ‘Cuse. They went 2 of 20 in their opener.

Milestone victory

Jim Boeheim (857) is closing in on 900 wins and he should get it by early next season. They lost Rick Jackson but everybody else returns. Seven-footer Fab Melo who had four blocked shots against Fordham and Baye Moussa Kelta (6-10, 213) figure to provide a strong defensive presence while C.J. Fair is a solid compliment as an inside and outside scorer. In the backcourt, senior Scoop Jardine, who averaged 12.5 points and six assists points per game returns, along with Brandon Triche who netted 11.1 points per outing a year ago.

Syracuse finished third in the Big East last season with a record of 12-6. Many college basketball bettors have them targeted for first-place this year.

Domination

The Orange have won 23 straight non-conference home games by an average of 24.0 points. They are 20-7 all-time against the Jaspers (1-0), taking 10 straight meetings in the series since falling 94-80 on Feb. 4, 1965.

Manhattan is 9-1-1 ATS in its last 11 road games and 8-2-1 overall. Syracuse is 6-2 ATS in its last eight outings.

Harvey’s Take: The frontcourt trio of Joseph, Jardine and Triche figure to have a field day against the Jaspers if they can avoid the mistakes. Syracuse turned the ball over 10 times in the first-half against Fordham and need to be careful against the pesky Manhattan D. Overall though the ‘Cuse has just much talent and depth and should win easily while covering in the process.

Take the Orange and lay the lumber. Good luck.