Preview: Syracuse meets San Diego State in Battle on the Midway carrier game

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Condensation was the spoiler Friday night, stopping two aircraft carrier games before their completion, having effectively halted Ohio State-Marquette before it could get started and forcing a halftime cancellation of Georgetown-Florida.

Third time’s the charm, right?

Syracuse and San Diego State hope the West Coast is friendlier than the East when they tip off at 4 p.m. ET aboard the USS Midway off the coast of California.

This Battle of the Midway has already seen a delay, postponed from Friday until Sunday due to rainy conditions in the area. Weather forecasts look good for today, though, with sunny skies expected and temperatures in the mid-60s.

Check out below for NBCSports.com’s preview:

Players to Watch:

Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State

For San Diego State, everything is centered around the junior Franklin, who is coming off a season in which he averaged 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. In a match-up of two ranked teams, expect Franklin to show up big.

Michael Carter-Williams

Chatter about MCW has been happening almost since last season ended and Dion Waiters, Kris Joseph, Fab Melo, and Scoop Jardine left the program. Carter-Williams is expected by many to be a breakout performer this season and on national TV would be a good time to start.

Keys to the Game:

– San Diego State is smaller than Syracuse, with the Orange featuring Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita, and DaJuan Coleman on the front line.  That likely means that Syracuse will have the advantage on the glass, so the Aztecs can’t waste possessions Sunday afternoon.

-Wind could be a big factor aboard the USS Midway, which also favors the Orange. Jim Boeheim’s zone defense will try to keep San Diego State on the perimeter, with wind making three-point shooting more difficult. Michigan State lost to North Carolina aboard the USS Carl Vinson last season after shooting 2-of-20 from three-point range.

– San Diego State needs to exploit its advantage in the backcourt, led by Franklin and senior Chase Tapley. Syracuse guard Brandon Triche, who is expected to step into a larger role this season, could have his hands full.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Top 25 Countdown: No. 4 Syracuse Orange

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 34-3, 17-1 Big East (1st); Lost in the Elite 8 to Ohio State

Head Coach: Jim Boeheim

Key Losses: Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters, Fab Melo

Newcomers: Jerami Grant, DaJuan Coleman

Projected Lineup:

G: Brandon Triche, Sr.
G: Michael Carter-Williams, So.
F: James Southerland, Sr.
F: CJ Fair, Jr.
C: Rakeem Christmas, So.
Bench: Jerami Grant, Fr.; DaJuan Coleman, Fr.; Baye Keita, So.; Trevor Cooney, Fr.

Outlook: Jim Boeheim has done a lot of impressive things during his long and illustrious coaching career, but there may be no achievement greater than what he was able to accomplish last season. In a year plagued by scandal — The Dion Waiter transfer saga; the Bernie Fine scandal; Fab Melo’s eligibility, and legal, issues; a report of failed drug tests that were covered up. — the Orange were still able to finish the regulars season at 30-1 and make the Elite 8. And if Melo, the anchor of their 2-3 zone last season, had done his homework, who knows what could have ended up happening. The Orange lost just one game when he was in the lineup.

Melo is gone this season, as are three of Syracuse’s top four scorers from last season. But the Orange return quite a bit of a talent and a team that should be perfectly suited to playing Boeheim’s 2-3 zone.

The key to this season is going to be the development of Michael Carter-Williams. A top 25 recruit coming out of high school, MCW was buried on the bench for much of last season as Scoop Jardine, Waiters and Triche made up the perimeter rotation. As a sophomore, MCW will be asked to slide into the starting role, and there’s little reason to believe he won’t be able to thrive. From his size, to his handle, to his passing ability, MCW has been compared to Jason Kidd, and while that’s a tough comparison to live up to, it’s not that far off. He’ll make everyone on the team better because they’ll get open shots. With the combination of shooters on the perimeter and athletes around the rim that Syracuse has on the roster this season, it’s not crazy to think MCW could averaged 15 points and five assists this year.

While his back court mate is quite inexperienced, even for a sophomore, Brandon Triche is arguably as experienced as any player in the country, having started every game for the Orange for the past three years. He’s also the epitome of a team-player, sacrificing his minutes last season to allow Waiters more playing time without making a peep. He’s a combo-guard that defends, rebounds and (usually) is a knockdown three point shooter.

But most importantly, like MCW (who’s 6-foot-6), Triche is a bigger guard. He stands 6-foot-4, which means that, when teaming with MCW at the top of the Syracuse 2-3 zone, he’ll help create all kinds of problems for Syracuse opponents.

Expect redshirt freshman sharpshooter Trevor Cooney to be the third guard in this equation.

In the front court, Syracuse has a multitude of weapons and different looks that can be used. The most familiar roster for Big East fans should be CJ Fair, an uber-athletic, 6-foot-8 combo-forward who has had his fair share of poster-worthy dunks during his college career. Fair has also had some impressive performances in his two seasons with the Orange, but he’s struggled to find consistent minutes on the floor. He’ll get them this season, and should thrive.

James Southerland is the guy I expect to eventually start at the four. Like Fair, he’s athletic and, at 6-foot-8, lanky enough to cause serious problems in the 2-3 zone. Southerland is also a very good three-point shooter, meaning he’ll be able to help create space in the paint. Freshman Jerami Grant, another athletic, 6-foot-8 forward, should see minutes as well.

The biggest question mark for the Orange will be at the center spot, where Rakeem Christmas, a sophomore, and DaJuan Coleman, a freshman, will likely split minutes. Christmas and Coleman are both 6-foot-9, but where Christmas is long and a shotblocker, Coleman is much bigger, checking in around 280 pounds.What Boeheim has done the past two seasons with elite center recruits — Melo and Christmas — is to put them in the starting lineup but yank them just a few minutes into the game, going with a smaller lineup. It will be interesting to see if he does that with Coleman this season.

Whatever the case, if he decides to use them on the floor together, it may end up hurting the Orange defensively; neither is ideal to play the wing in the 2-3 zone. Individually, Christmas is the better defender while Coleman is better offensively and on the glass. Another lanky center, sophomore Baye Keita, will also see minutes up front.

Predictions?: I still think Louisville is the best team in the Big East, but Syracuse isn’t really all that far behind. Like the Cardinals, I think the Orange are going to be much better on the defensive end of the floor than on the offensive end. But the bottom line is this: all the players taking over bigger roles for this Syracuse team were highly-touted recruits, and a few of them — MCW, Christmas, even throwing Coleman in there — were ranked in the top 25 nationally. Boeheim has done a great job recruiting in recent years, and this is the season it will pay off for him.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Conference Preview: Louisville is the favorite in Big East after run to Final Four

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

It came as no surprise last week when the Big East coaches resoundingly named Louisville the preseason favorite to win the conference, but what about the other storylines?

This year’s edition of the Big East has all of the ingredients for drama: realignment storylines, television negotiations, and a little preseason war of words.

Let’s break it all down:

Five Things to Know

1. “Realignment” is the word in the Big East. Absent at Media Day was a longtime fixture, Bob Huggins, whose West Virginia Mountaineers are now members of the Big 12. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are both entering their final season in the conference before heading to the ACC. Notre Dame is likely negotiating some sort of deal to head to the ACC early, as well. On the horizon wait Memphis, Temple, UCF, Houston, and SMU, ready to enter the league. Prepare yourself for frequent “this could be the final match-up…”-type storylines as the season progresses.

2. Louisville is the preseason favorite to win the conference, but much of its success hinges on Big East Preseason Player of the Year Peyton Siva. We saw different versions of the then-junior point guard last season. Who will ultimately prevail this season, the player who was the catalyst for Louisville’s run in the Big East and NCAA tournaments or the player who averaged 5.4 points and 3.6 turnovers per game for a seven-game stretch in late December and January?

3. Connecticut is in a season of change. Not only are they banned from the Big East and NCAA tournaments, but longtime head coach Jim Calhoun announced his retirement earlier this year. Former Husky assistant Kevin Ollie now takes over the program. Players say that, though more stern, Ollie is the same optimistic leader as they remember him in his assistant role. He might be just what they need in this season of transition.

4. Syracuse has lost a number of key pieces from last season, among them Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, Kris Joseph, and Scoop Jardine, but comes into 2012-13 as a top-15 team nationally that is ready to compete for a conference title. Expect sophomore Michael Carter-Williams to have a breakout year.

5. Stan Heath and South Florida surprised a lot of people last season when they finished 22-14 and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. Point guard Anthony Collins returns for his sophomore season and will be key. Interesting note: Despite the slow offensive tempo that produced just 59.2 points per game last season, Heath told NBCSports.com at Big East media day that this year’s team is built to play faster, so don’t be surprised if we see Collins lead the “Running of the Bulls.”

Impact Newcomers

C Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)

The 6-10 Adams was chosen by league coaches to be the Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year and will have expectations to match in 2012-13. The New Zealand native likely has been praised by scouts for his upside.

C DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse)

The local prospect will have to help in compensating for the loss of Fab Melo to the NBA. Reports are that he has lost significant weight (he was last listed at 6-9, 275 pounds), which should make him more mobile.

F Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)

Rick Pitino and the Cardinals were fortunate enough to land Harrell after he decommitted from Virginia Tech this spring. Point guard Peyton Siva says he already sees improvement in the 6-8, 215 forward, who should provide more stability in the frontcourt.

F Stephen Domingo (Georgetown)

Domingo was a member of the Class of 2013 until he committed to Georgetown and sped up his high school timeline. The lanky California native should provide the three-point threat that the Hoyas need.

F JaKarr Sampson (St. John’s)

Sampson is an elite athlete who returns to the Red Storm after taking a post-graduate year at Brewster Academy in 2011-12. He has a different skill set than Moe Harkless, who left for the NBA after one season in Queens, but has a high ceiling and an undeniable “wow” factor when his athleticism is on full display.

G Kris Dunn (Providence)

With Ricky Ledo being ruled ineligible to play this season, Providence head coach Ed Cooley will rely more on his other star recruit, Dunn. Injury is holding him back for now, but if he doesn’t redshirt, he will change the complexion of the Friar offense.

Breakout Players

F Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)

Carter-Williams played sparingly during his freshman season, but he’ll have an increased role because of the loss of key pieces to the NBA.

G Anthony Collins (South Florida)

If coach Stan Heath wants to implement a faster brand of offense, Collins is his man. Quick and explosive, the sophomore is ready to lead.

G Vander Blue (Marquette)

Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder have moved on to the NBA, which leaves Blue with a chance to shine.

G Ryan Boatright (Connecticut)

Plagued by NCAA investigations last season, Boatright should be able to focus and find his groove in 2012-13 as part of a backcourt with Shabazz Napier.

G Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)

He averaged 12.3 points and led the Irish with 5.0 assists per game last season, but didn’t get the national recognition that he should be able to grab this year.

Player of the Year: G Peyton Siva (Louisville)

The biggest question will be which Peyton Siva shows up for most of the season, but if the end of the season is any indication, we could be in for a special season from him.

Coach Under Pressure: Oliver Purnell (DePaul)

After a 3-15 season in Big East play, Purnell and his reported $1.8 million annual contract will have to prove some things in 2012-13. The Blue Demons are still projected to finish in the bottom third of the conference.

All-Conference Team

(*) denotes Player of the Year

G Peyton Siva (Louisville)*

G Vincent Council (Providence)

F Otto Porter (Georgetown)

F Jack Cooley (Notre Dame)

C Gorgui Dieng (Louisville)

Predicted Finish

1. Louisville–Coming off a Final Four run and with Siva at the point, the Cardinals are the favorite.

2. Syracuse—Personnel losses shouldn’t be a problem for the Orange. They have reloaded and will be solidly in the nation’s Top 15.

3. Notre Dame—Jack Cooley and Scott Martin are key, as are guards Jerian Grant and Erik Atkins. Could be the final Big East season for the Irish.

4. Cincinnati—Yancy Gates’ departure will hurt Mick Cronin’s team, but guard Sean Kilpatrick should be able to continue capitalize on momentum from last season.

5. Georgetown—The top three scorers for the Hoyas—Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson, and Henry Sims—have all left. This is Otto Porter’s chance to step up.

6. Pittsburgh—With no Ashton Gibbs, Tray Woodall takes on more responsibilities in the backcourt. Big man Steven Adams will play a role, as will transfer Trey Zeigler.

7. USF—The element of surprise is gone for Stan Heath’s team. Can they compete when other teams expect it?

8. Marquette—Crowder and Johnson-Odom aren’t easily replaced. If we’ve learned one thing, though, it’s not to underestimate Buzz Williams.

9. Connecticut—The general sentiment around the program is that this is not a loss season, despite the postseason ban. We’ll see what Kevin Ollie can do in his first season.

10. St. John’s—Steve Lavin returns after undergoing prostate cancer surgery and has another young, talented recruiting class coming to the Red Storm.

11. Rutgers—Coach Mike Rice began to lay the foundation with his recruiting class last season and now he will build on it. Eligible transfer Wally Judge should help.

12. Villanova—Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek have departed, take with them a combined 30 points per game. Wake Forest transfer Tony Chennault and freshman Ryan Arcidiacono will compete for the starting PG spot.

13. DePaul—Cleveland Melvin once again is the centerpiece. Injuries plagued the Blue Demons last season.

14. Providence—Ricky Ledo being ruled ineligible hurts the Friars in the short term, but the long-term outlook is bright.

15. Seton Hall—Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope have left, and the NCAA’s decision not to grant a hardship waiver to guard Sterling Gibbs will make life more difficult in Jersey.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Syracuse-San Diego State Battle of the Midway tickets start at $150

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As San Diego State and Syracuse ready themselves for their November match-up aboard the USS Midway, more news about the ticket prices was released to the public.

Want to attend? We already know that sideline seats will cost you $1,000. Baseline seats will cost you $500. So how much is it to get in the door?

Tickets go on sale Wednesday and the entry price is $150, the cheapest seats in the house out of about 5,000 seats onboard the ship.

Season ticket holders for both teams have already had the first shot at grabbing tickets, but SDSU spokesman Mike May tells the Associated Press that a “healthy” number should be available to the general public.

The game Nov. 9 opens the season for both teams, Syracuse coming off a run to the Elite 8 and San Diego State having secured a berth in the NCAA tournament last season.

Syracuse loses Fab Melo and Dion Waiters early to the NBA draft, as well as Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph to graduation. The Orange will be looking to sophomore Michael Carter-Williams to have a breakout season.

For the Aztecs, they are expected to compete in the Mountain West behind Jamaal Franklin, who averaged 17.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Temple and Syracuse highlight finalized field for Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden

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Syracuse and Temple headline the inaugural Gotham Classic, an event that includes five teams and culminates with a meeting between the Orange and the Owls on Dec. 22 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Joining Temple and Syracuse will be Alcorn State, Canisius, and an NCAA tournament participant from last season, Detroit.

The schedule is as follows:

Dec. 15: Canisius at Syracuse

Dec. 17: Alcorn State at Temple

Dec. 17: Detroit at Syracuse

Dec. 19: Canisius at Temple

Dec. 19: Detroit at Alcorn State

Dec. 22: Syracuse vs. Temple (@ Madison Square Garden)

Dec. 27: Detroit at Temple

Dec. 27: Alcorn State at Canisius

Dec. 29: Alcorn State at Syracuse

Dec. 29: Canisius at Detroit

Syracuse will likely a Top-25, if not Top-15 team when the first polls are released this fall, despite the fact that Jim Boeheim’s team has lost Dion Waiters, Scoop Jardine, Fab Melo, and Kris Joseph from last season’s team.

Temple also loses two big pieces, Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez, but returns 17-point scorer Khalif Wyatt and brings a solid recruiting class that is headlined by New York native Daniel Dingle.

Detroit returns former McDonald’s All-American guard Ray McCallum, Jr., from a team that finished 22-14 and lost to Kansas in the Round of 64 of the NCAA tournament.

Canisius begins its first season under head coach Jim Baron, while Alcorn State looks to improve on a 10-22 finish last season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Big East releases conference schedule

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The Big East, now led by new commissioner Mike Aresco, announced its conference schedule Wednesday.

“BIG EAST men’s basketball and unparalleled national media exposure have always been synonymous,” Aresco said in a statement. “The 2012-13 schedule is unmatched in the scope of national, regional and local telecasts.  Our coaches and student-athletes are committed to excellence at the highest level.  I know the upcoming season will be filled with outstanding and exciting play.”

For the conference, the season kicks off on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2012, with Cincinnati traveling to Pittsburgh at noon.

Marquette hosts Connecticut to follow up on New Year’s Day at 8 p.m.

Louisville, who will likely be among the favorites to win the conference with Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan, and Gorgui Dieng returning, begins its conference slate hosting Providence on Jan. 2.

This upcoming season marks the final for Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the Big East before they move to the ACC for the 2013-14 season.

On Feb. 2, the Orange travel to Pittsburgh for a noon tip-off. Syracuse looks to reload after losing Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, Kris Joseph, and Scoop Jardine, while Pittsburgh welcomes two impact freshmen in James Robinson and Steven Adams.

To view the rest of the schedule released Wednesday, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_