Indiana faces its first road challenge in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this Tuesday in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse. The Orange have by no means had a similar start to the Hoosiers coming into the matchup with three losses, two of which were in the Battle 4 Atlantis to a subpar VCU squad and a ranked Auburn team — not the showing that was expected for a team who made it to the Sweet 16 last March.
Jim Boeheim’s squad has been shaky defensively running the infamous 2-3 zone. They want teams to shoot the ball, which can really make it a track meet for the opposing team — a situation in which Indiana did not fare well against Marshall.
Indiana plays best when it plays in the half-court and is able to run an established offense. If the Orange force some turnovers, win in transition and shoot the ball well, it might be a long night for Mike Woodson and company.
For IU, it will be critical to defend the 3-point line. Syracuse is shooting a lethal 38.1 percentage from beyond the arc this season and guys like Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim can kill you if you get going.
Guys such as Parker Stewart and Miller Kopp will be players to look out for when it comes to making shots on Indiana’s sideline. Trayce Jackson-Davis is coming off a career-high night of 43 points and will face a challenge in the middle of the zone. For both TJD and Race Thompson, you have to be able to make quick decisions when getting the ball in the middle — the soft spot — of the zone.
It’s the road test many have been waiting for after Indiana’s 6-0 start to the season and this evening — at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 — we very well may find out what this Hoosiers team really is capable of.