Previewing Monday night's Syracuse vs. Virginia showdown

The final home game of the season features a number of key story lines.

Syracuse's home schedule for the 2014-15 season goes out with a bang tonight, as the Orange will battle No. 2 Virginia at the Carrier Dome at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN.

Although SU is already banned from postseason competiton, tonight's contest still features plenty of reasons to head to the Loud House or tune into "The Worldwide Leader." Here are a few things to watch for tonight:

Senior Night

Before the game, Syracuse will honor its two seniors, forward Rakeem Christmas and guard Carter Sanderson, during an on-court ceremony.

However, the eyes of the Dome faithful will really be on Christmas, who has developed into one of the best big men in the country this season. The team's leading rebounder and scorer, Christmas will likely be selected in the upcoming NBA Draft. However, this game is his last chance to shine in front of the SU fan base and possibly spark a huge upset.

Where are the points?

Virginia boasts the best scoring defense in the country, a unit that has held three teams to under 30 points this season. The defense is aided by a half-court offense that looks to screech the game tempo to a halt and slowly pick apart the opposition.

Although Saturday's loss to Duke would be an exception, the Orange has shown it can be very effective when it breaks out in transition. With that ability severely limited, SU needs to do something it has struggled with all season.

Make jump shots.

If Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije struggle as mightily as they have the past two weeks, it will be a very long night for fans in the Dome.


Speaking of Gbinije...

The junior is very close to becoming the first Syracuse player to lead a conference in three-point field goal percentage. He currently sits at 45.4 percent, right on the tail of Boston College's Olivier Hanlan (45.7 percent).

The task won't be easy, as Virginia's defense is second-best in the ACC against shots from beyond the arc.

Perhaps more importantly, Gbinije is in a funk of late, shooting only 3-of-14 from deep over the Orange's past three games. There would be no better time for him to find his stroke and take some of the weight off Christmas, who should have his hands full against Virginia's bigs.


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