The Syracuse Orange's unblemished record will need to survive two consecutive road games in three days the first coming Saturday night as No. 1-ranked Syracuse visits the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a Big East Conference men's basketball game (6 p.m. on ESPNU) at the Joyce Center in South Bend, IN. The Orange (20-0, 7-0 Big East) will be trying to keep their school record of consecutive victories to start a season alive, while the Irish (11-8, 3-3) are looking to end a two-game losing streak.
Also on the line for SU is its No. 1 ranking which the Orange have held for six straight weeks. If SU is able to pull off the victory over Notre Dame, the Orange would remain atop of the college basketball rankings for a school record seven consecutive weeks.
On Monday, the Orange kept their record perfect alive with a 71-63 victory over visiting Pittsburgh Panthers at the Carrier Dome. Sophomore guard Dion Watiers netted a game-best 16 points while senior forward Kris Joseph added 12, and both nailed two critical 3-point shots late in the game to hold off a hard-charging Pitt squad, which had trimmed SU's 14-point advantage to just four with 8:39 to go.
SU made 11 of 12 free throws in the final four minutes to cement the victory.
Currently, Joseph paces the Orange in scoring with 13.7 points per game, but Waiters (13.1 ppg) is right behind him and has lead the team in scoring in Big East play (14.4 ppg). In his last three games, senior point guard Scoop Jardine has been outstanding averaging 10 ppg, 8 assists per game and just 1.3 turnovers per game.
Meanwhile, the Irish have dropped their last two games, the latest coming Monday, 65-58, at host Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Last Saturday, Notre Dame had its 29-game home winning streak at the Joyce Center snapped by the No. 11 Connecticut Huskies, 67-53.
However, playing at the Joyce Center hasn't been too much of a problem for SU, which has earned six victories there in its last seven trips.
Currently, the Irish are led by senior guard Eric Atkins who's averaging a team-best 13.3 ppg, while sophomore guard Jerian Grant is netting 12.8 ppg and is tops in passing with 4.7 apg. Junior forward Jack Cooley is a bruiser inside and is averaging 10.4 ppg and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Back in late November, the Irish lost their best player, senior forward Tim Abromaitis, for the season to an injury -- an ACL tear in the right knee.
For more on the Syracuse Vs. Notre Dame contest, check back to this StoryStream. Check out, the SB Nation's blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician for everything Orange, while One Foot Down is all about the Irish. For more on Big East basketball, visit the SB Nation blog Big East Coast Bias. If you're a college basketball nut, well, SB Nation's college basketball hub will solve your hoops cravings.