College Basketball Betting — Does OSU Have the Range to Topple Syracuse?

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The Oklahoma State Cowboys are looking to bring their program back from a position of non-participation in post-season activity last season. They are enjoying an infusion of new people, although the best recruit they have is still on the shelf. On Wednesday night they will try to demonstrate that they can trade punches with a better opponent as they take on the Syracuse Orange in a game that begins at 7:30 PM ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

It’s the NIT Season Tip-Off, to be televised by ESPN2, and BetAnySports customers can watch the game and place wagers in real time as they take advantage of what’s available through Sports Betting Ultra.

These teams actually have several things in common. They are the top two teams in the nation in shot-blocking percentage. They have had problems from the standpoint of shooting. They are getting a lot of contributions from freshmen.

But there is one substantial difference that is the case almost every time the ‘Cuse takes the floor. And that is the matchup zone.

And maybe the key to this game is whether the opponent can exploit something about the zone.

Syracuse opened the season in rather uninspiring fashion, as the Orange lost 48-34 to Virginia. They held the defending national champions to just 4-of-25 from three-point territory, but shot only 23.6% themselves, and were out-rebounded by a 37-20 margin.

Coach Jim Boeheim was not all that concerned with the fact that his team had only one returning starter from a team that reached the NCAA Tournament. They had others who contributed form the bench, as well as some talented freshmen, including Quincy Guerrier, who is in the nation’s top 40 in shot-block percentage, and Joseph Girard, who holds the all-time New York state high school scoring record, and who has nailed 44% of his three-pointers.

In the college basketball betting odds that have been posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, Syracuse is favored:

Syracuse Orange -3
Oklahoma State Cowboys +3

Over 125 points -110
Under 125 points -110

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OSU went just 12-20 last year, missing any post-season tournaments, and there were problems, as head coach Mike Boynton dropped four players from the team in January, leaving him with just seven scholarship players. But they have brought all five starters back, along with a very good freshman class, which includes the Boone twins (Kalib and Kaylan), as well as UMass transfer Jonathan Laurent. Unfortunately, the top incoming freshman, guard Marcus Watson, who also happens to be Boynton’s cousin, has not yet hit the floor. On October 19 he was accused of rape by a female OSU student. Although there won’t be criminal charges, Watson has been suspended from all team activities.

The big obstacle for Syracuse in the OSU defensive setup is Yor Anei, who as a rather unheralded freshman last year led the Big 12 in blocked shots (2.7 per game) and is currently second in the nation in shot-blocking percentage.

So who is going to have the edge in this game? From a matchup perspective, we’d have to say Syracuse. With the kind of zone Syracuse plays, the best weapon a team can have is the ability to shoot over it with three-pointers. In fact, the ‘Cuse forces opponents into taking 53% of their shots from beyond the arc. Well, Oklahoma State is only 30% from downtown, and Syracuse surrenders just 24% from out there. Over the last two games, OSU is 38% from the field and 59% from the line. Those numbers aren’t meaningless. So unless the Cowboys can make something happen on the inside, where Syracuse is #1 in block percentage, it’s going to be a long night.

At least Boeheim’s team has a little more firepower, with the likes of Girard, Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim able to hit threes and stay out of the teeth of OSU’s defense. So we’ll lay the reasonable number.

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