Syracuse Orange, Big East, Record: 15-0 (2-0), KenPom: 8, RPI: 4, SOS: 44
I'm not sure if it even matters that Melo has played sparingly this season. Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph are already a lot to handle, let alone the supplemental minutes given by the freshman phenom Fab Melo. Look for the other freshman stud Dion Waiters to play a bunch of minutes as the first guard off the bench. Forward James Southerland will also play a lot.
As if their sheer ability wasn't enough, the Orange will unfortunately have the help of over 50% of the crowd today. I went to the Seton Hall-Syracuse and Rutgers-Syracuse games last year, and boy do they travel well. Expect the attendance to be even stronger since Seton Hall is struggling in addition to the wintery weather.
Syracuse is going to have 2, maybe 3 monsters in and around the paint at all times. I predict major rebounding issues for undermanned Seton Hall. Herb Pope is a great rebounder, but he can't do it all. Keon Lawrence and Jeff Robinson need to do their best to help him out.
Another problem that these athletic forwards present is blocking ability. Seton Hall is one of the most blocked teams in the nation, according to KenPom (316th). A lot of that can be contributed to Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence's inability to make proper decisions in the paint. I don't expect that to change today, especially against Syracuse, the second best blocking team in the nation.
Jim Boehim's teams infamously plays the 2-3 zone. I'm not so sure that is the best remedy for a struggling offensive team such as the Pirates. I hope they prove me wrong, but the zone could hold the Pirates to something like 50 points if they don't improve their offensive execution. Zones are known to baffle offenses that aren't fundamentally sound.
KenPom Prediction: Syracuse 73, Seton Hall 65
Seton Hall has lost its last two BIG EAST contests and is coming off 73-54 loss at Louisville on Wednesday. Freshman Fuquan Edwin scored a career-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds vs. Louisville. It marked his eighth straight game in double-figures in scoring. Jeff Robinson leads the team with 12.2 points per game among actives. Seton Hall returns home for #4 Syracuse on Saturday before returning to the road for games at DePaul and Pittsburgh next week.