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Beat writers predict SU will beat Towson in NCAA Tournament
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Beat writers predict SU will beat Towson in NCAA Tournament

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After a two-year absence, Syracuse returns to the NCAA tournament. The Dutch won eleven games in the regular season, the most in seven years, and finished above .500 in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since 2018.

Under head coach Gary Gait, SU has re-established itself as one of the best teams in the country. Joey Spallina has led an explosive offense, while goaltender Will Mark has anchored an improved defense. Despite its regular-season success, Syracuse faltered in the ACC Tournament semifinals, falling 18-13 to Duke. The Dutch team trailed 5-0 before gaining offensive possession, which led to the defeat.

Syracuse’s focus now turns to the NCAA tournament. SU will take on Coastal Athletic Association winners Towson, who haven’t lost a game since March 9. The Tigers also have the nation’s top scoring defense, allowing fewer than nine goals per game.

Here’s how our beat writers think No. 4 seed Syracuse (11-5, 3-1 ACC) will fare against Towson (13-3, 7-0 CAA) in the first round of the NCAA tournament:



Zak Wolf (11-5)
History does not repeat itself (part 2)
Syracuse 12, Towson 9

If you read my BWP last week, I talked about history not repeating itself. That was in reference to Syracuse’s last ACC tournament win against Duke in 2016. This time, my catchphrase still has the same meaning, just against a different team.

2017 was the last time SU won an NCAA Tournament game, beating Yale 11-10. But the Dutch number 2 team trailed 6-0 after the first quarter and were defeated 10-7 by Towson in the next round. While I don’t believe Syracuse will suffer the same fate in 2024, it won’t be easy. Towson is one of the most popular teams in the country, winning nine straight.

The Tigers also allow just 8.44 goals per game. They tore through the CAA, going 7-0 and destroying both Drexel and Delaware in the conference tournament by a combined 19 goals. Nevertheless, I expect Syracuse to get over the finish line purely because it is the most talented team. The tournament brings exciting matches and this will be no exception, but in the end Syracuse will just get over the finish line.

Kuiper Andrews (11-5)
Back
Syracuse 16, Towson 7

SU’s ACC Tournament exit against Duke was pathetic. Expectations couldn’t have been higher after a recent win over Virginia vaulted Syracuse into the No. 3 team in the country. Moreover, the Dutch team’s 10-4 defeat against the Blue Devils in March remained fresh in the memory. But SU’s loss in the semifinals, where it trailed by as many as 10, vaulted it into the NCAA.

Syracuse needs a big answer. They are decimated teams that have fallen within Towson’s talent pool time and time again this season, namely a 14-6 win in March over the Tigers’ CAA rival Delaware. Towson has an efficient group on both sides of the ball, though I believe Syracuse’s stars will carry it to a win.

Nick DeMaio, who averages the fifth most points per game in the country (5.00), is a lethal threat on the other end. But if Mason Kohn can win with consistency at face-off X, Spallina and Owen Hiltz will form a great scoring midfield trio of Sam English, Jake Stevens and Finn Thomson. In the biggest moment yet, SU’s top options will shine and get rid of last week’s performance.

Anish Vasudevan (12-4)
Stop and smell the roses
Syracuse 10, Towson 7

Before I get into my prediction, I’m going to be a homer for a moment (and pretend the loss to Duke last weekend never happened).

Everything is coming together for the Dutch team this season. Key additions like Stevens and English put Syracuse on top of teams it wouldn’t have beaten a year or two ago. Mark holds together a dominant defense in John Odierna’s opening campaign. Simply put, Gait’s third year in charge has gone better than expected. Whatever happens this Sunday, it’s important to remember that.

Now on with the game. The Dutch team has the chance against Towson to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2009. They are undoubtedly on the easier side of the standings, and a win over the Tigers would most likely pit them against a lower-ranked opponent. The Denver team.

To beat Towson’s tough defense, SU will have to rely on the abilities of Thomson, Stevens and English, all of whom have ripped through the defense while paying attention to other Syracuse players. The Dutch defense must respond to DeMaio. In this low-scoring affair, I expect Syracuse to come out on top.

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