Syracuse sat at 6-0 after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, but the Orange freshmen have looked like freshmen in two losses since then and giving over 20 points seems like a lot to ask.
Although the home team has a huge class advantage, some freshman erratic play could prevent covering a humongous point spread Tuesday night when the Colgate Raiders (2-5, 0-0 ATS) from the little Northeast Conference pay a visit to those Syracuse Orangemen (6-2, 3-4 ATS) out of the ACC at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.
The point spread at Bet365 has Colgate as a very large road underdog for this contest with the current line at +20½ with odds of -110.
Downhill Since Bahamas
Syracuse was flying high when it was 6-0 and ranked 14th in the country after beating a couple of ranked teams in Connecticut and Texas A&M while winning the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, but the Orange have since lost two straight games to fall out of the rankings. Yes the losses were to good competition in Wisconsin here at home and to former Big East rival Georgetown on the road, but the Syracuse youth started to show in the two losses.
This is the first lined game of the season for the 2-5 Raiders, but Colgate did have a nice beginning to the year by being the winning NCAA Basketball pick on the road vs. a lined team at George Mason, and rather decidedly too by a 66-53 score. Unfortunately the Raiders have won only once in six games since then.
Turnovers an Orange Achilles Heel
The loss by Syracuse at Georgetown Saturday marked the first game that the Orange were without Coach Jim Boeheim on the sideline as he served the first game of his nine-game suspension mandated by the NCAA for rules violations, and perhaps his absence had a direct impact on the play of freshmen starters Tyler Lydon and especially Malachi Richardson, whose difficulties actually began in the prior loss to Wisconsin in this building.
Richardson went 4-for-19 from the field in those last two losses including going an ugly 1-for-12 from beyond the three-point arc, and if we take things back a couple of more games he has eight turnovers vs. just two assists over the last four contests. Richardson had scored in double-digits in all six wins to open the season but the youngster is going through some growing pains now while watching his field goal percentage sink to 36.0 percent for the year.
That youth has led to Syracuse ranking 257th in the country in offensive turnover percentage at 20.2 percent vs. a national average of 18.6 percent, so despite having the obvious class edge in this game, being so turnover prone makes giving over 20 points very dicey regardless of the opponent.
Colgate Capable of Hanging
Yes Colgate only has the one win over Maryland-Baltimore County the last six games, but the Raiders showed in the first two games of the season that they are capable of covering huge spreads like this one, not only with the win at George Mason but also by following up with a double overtime 101-98 loss to Cornell. Also, Colgate is above average in forcing turnovers defensively at 19.1 percent, so the Orange don’t figure to correct their sloppiness here.
Also, another factor that would be a boon to any large underdog is the expected slow pace of this game. In fact, these teams are almost identical in their slow tempo ratings, with Syracuse ranking 287th in the country in that category at 68.0 possessions and Colgate just ahead in 278th at 68.2 possessions. That means that the Orange may need to shoot an extremely high percentage to cover this number, but they are a team ranked only 142nd in effective field goal percentage.
Trending the Underdogs
Finally, Colgate may not be on the betting board that often but when it has been, it has usually given a good account of itself going 7-3 ATS in its last 10 road games and 4-0 ATS in its last four games vs. teams with a winning percentage above .600.. On the flipside, Syracuse has actually been burning quite a bit of money going 7-18-1 ATS in the last 26 games overall and 3-10 ATS the last 13 home games.
So while Syracuse should win this game on the court to snap the mini losing streak, expect Colgate to come in inside this enormous spread at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Colgate +20½ (-110)