Fantasy College Basketball Game of the Week: Georgetown at Syracuse
I am an anti-traditionalist, especially when it comes to fantasy sports. When I serve as a commissioner of a league, I like to tinker with the settings, sometimes to the dismay of the participants. Maybe I am just bored easily, but I prefer to think of it as striving for a more interesting league. Because of this feeling, I don't really mind that colleges have been shuffling the conference deck, even if the reasons for these movements are completely financially oriented (which usually boils down to football). I am not going to fool myself that big time sports aren't about money. When Missouri left the Big 12 and their rivalry with Kansas, they stepped into the SEC and potential rivalries with Kentucky and Florida. When I watched Georgetown's last trip to Syracuse as Big East members, I did not shed a tear. In fact, I did the opposite because the game was quite good.
As a side note, I meant to write about Wisconsin last week or the week before in regards to how I don't like when people dismiss low-scoring college basketball games. This game only featured 103 points and the Hoyas took a long time on each possession to take a shot, but that did not mean that the level of play was poor. Both defenses were stout and neither team was able to wiggle free for many easy shots. That's good basketball.
In fact, in the first half I was convinced that the Orange were going to win because they were getting somewhat easier shots. I don't think Georgetown had any points in the paint through the first 30 minutes of the game that did not come off an offensive rebound. While Syracuse was only credited with seven blocked shots, their vaunted zone collapsed in the paint and did not allow any bunnies. Meanwhile, Syracuse was able to find some holes in the Hoya defense and get a few easy buckets. I thought the only way that Georgetown would win would be to shoot over the zone and get a superior performance from one player. In that, I was right on both accounts, but I didn't expect both to come from the same player.
Otto Porter may have leaped into pole position of the Big East Player of the Year race. His 33 points represented 58 percent of his team's scoring and the rest of the Hoyas only made 20 percent of their field goals. Porter added eight rebounds and five steals to complete his excellent performance. With the Orange packing the paint, he used his somewhat slingshot release to hit a career-high five 3-pointers, including a four-point play. Of the three sophomore that I expect to make a big bump in production (Porter, Chane Behanan, and Branden Dawson), Porter has done the most and has been especially good since Greg Whittington was suspended for academics.
Despite losing at the Carrier Dome for the first time in 57 games, the Orange did not play terribly. As noted above, their interior defense was incredible. C.J. Fair had some nice scores in the first half before the Hoyas ratcheted up their defense. He has not been held to single digits in points since Dec. 17 and has blossomed into a star in for Syracuse. I am less thrilled by James Southerland. The 6-8 senior hit a long 3-pointer in the first half, then took a number of ill-advised shots to harm Syracuse's momentum (what little they had, if it is even a real thing). Southerland also had one of the worst fast break attempts that I've seen in awhile. He is clearly not comfortable handling the ball and he simply ran over the Hoya defender for an easy charge call. The reserve is an important player for Syracuse, but he is also something of a one-trick pony. Syracuse finishes their Big East run with three tough games (at Marquette, Louisville, at Georgetown) and it will be interesting to see how they finish. My guess is that whatever seed they get in the NCAA tournament (projected as a three seed by ESPN prior to Saturday), they will be able to hold up to it because of their defense and their usual ability to get easy baskets.