No. 6 Syracuse vs. Cincinnati: Orange go for 8th straight win

Chris Trotman

Syracuse was the No. 2 team in the country a year ago when it lost to Cincinnati in the Big East tournament. Fast-forward to a year later, and the Orange could be in that position again heading into a game against the Bearcats after beating top-ranked Louisville on Saturday.

The No. 6 Syracuse Orange host the Cincinnati Bearcats in Big East Conference play on Monday afternoon at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., the first meeting between the two teams since Cincinnati knocked off Syracuse in the semifinal round of the 2012 Big East Tournament.

Cincinnati earned a 71-68 victory over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on March 9 of last year and rolled all the way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament after dropping the Big East final to Louisville. The Orange were the second-ranked team in the country at the time.

Fast forward to this season, and the Orange are winners of seven-straight games and are undefeated in league play, getting off to a 5-0 start, including a victory over then-No. 1 Louisville on Saturday. The win gives Syracuse (17-1) a legitimate claim as the top team in the country, and it could very well be at least in the top two once again heading into a meeting with Cincinnati. The Orange are a top-20 team in scoring, rebounding and assists under Jim Boeheim, who won his 904th game as a head coach over the weekend.

Michael Carter-Williams is in the midst of a terrific season for the Orange. He leads the country in assists with 9.3 per game, and his 3.2 steals per contest ranks fourth in the nation. His game meshes well with the team's leading scorer, Brandon Triche, who is averaging 14.6 points per game.

Cincinnati improved to 4-2 in conference play with a 71-69 win over No. 25 Marquette on Saturday. The victory is just another notch in the Bearcats' solid resume, which includes wins over Oregon, Pittsburgh and Xavier. Cincinnati can add the biggest of wins to its collection by beating the Orange at home, and the Bearcats have the firepower to get it done. Sean Kilpatrick averages 18.4 points per game to lead the team, while Cashmere Wright is putting up 15.1 points per contest while hitting 44.2 percent of his three-point attempts.

In addition to their ability to score points, the Bearcats are one of the few teams in the nation that can keep up with Syracuse on the boards. In fact, they rank ahead of the Orange in that category, sitting at third in the country with 42.8 rebounds per game.

Syracuse and Cincinnati are slated for a 3:30 p.m. tip off. The game will be televised on ESPN and WatchESPN.

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