Syracuse, N.Y. ― There will be two shades of Orange on display as Syracuse and Tennessee open up the 2023 Maui Invitational on Monday.
It’s the Syracuse Orange against the Vols’ Creamsicle version of the color.
Both teams are 3-0 this season, but Tennessee enters the tournament with a much higher profile. Coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Vols are ranked No. 7 in the country. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, who formerly coached at George Mason, Providence, Clemson and Texas, is now in his ninth year in Knoxville. He has 782 career coaching wins.
Syracuse has missed out on the NCAA Tournament in each of the last year two years. Adrian Autry is in his first year as a head coach.
This is Syracuse’s fourth appearance in the Maui Invitational. The Orange won the event in 1990, 1998 and 2013. This year’s tournament has been moved to the island of Oahu after wildfires destroyed much of Lahaina, the main town on the island of Maui.
These two schools have a very limited basketball history with each other. There were a couple of games in the 1990s when future NBA player Allan Houston was playing for the Vols. The last meeting between SU and Tennessee was a 66-62 Vols’ win in Knoxville on Jan. 19, 2002.
The most memorable game between Tennessee and Syracuse came in the 1977 NCAA Tournament. It was Jim Boeheim’s first year as head coach.
Syracuse, which was in the first year of the Louie and Bouie Show, played Tennessee in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Tennessee was led by a pair of New Yorkers, Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld, aka the Ernie and Bernie Show.
Syracuse came away with a 93-88 overtime victory. Syracuse would lose to Cedric Maxwell’s UNC-Charlotte in the next round.
Monday’s game is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. Eastern (9:30 a.m. Hawaii) and will be televised on ESPN2.
Here are 5 Key Things to Know about the matchup:
Judah walks the line
Getting to the free-throw line has become a huge part of Judah Mintz’s game. The Syracuse sophomore has taken 34 free throws through the first three games. He’s gone 28-for-34 (82.4%) at the line.
That’s 9.3 points per game just in free throws.
Thanks to his ability to draw to the basket and play through contact, Mintz ranks 12th in the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, according to KenPom.com, at 9.8 per game. He’s third among players on Power 6 teams.
That fouls drawn through 40 minutes number becomes even more remarkable when compared to the other Power 6 players on the list.
First is Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey (10.4 per game); second is Arizona’s 7-foot-2 Montiejus Krivas (10.2); then there’s Mintz and at fourth is UConn’s 7-2 center Donovan Clingan (9.5).
Mintz must continue to attack the basket. It’s a big part of his game.
Little big man
Zakai Zeigler may be listed at 5-foot-9 inches tall, but no Tennessee player stands taller in terms of their importance to the Vols.
Zeigler was averaging 10.7 points and 5.4…
Read More: 5 Key Things to Know