Syracuse will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak when they face Illinois in an ACC-Big Ten Challenge game tonight in a contest where the odds do not favor the Orange.

After 2021-22 marked head coach Jim Boeheim’s first losing season in his coaching career, things are not off to any better of a start in 2022-23.

Following a loss at home to Bryant via a buzzer-beater on Saturday, the Orange are a meager 3-3 on the season and loss tonight would mark its worst start since 1968-69. The only other season close was 2019-20, when the Orange were 4-4 after eight games following a 4-1 start.

Almost as troubling as the loss to Bryant was the ejection of freshman guard Judah Mintz, who slapped Bryant’s Doug Edert (who you may recall from Saint Peters’ magical run to the Elite Eight last year). Both players were ejected, and given the one-point loss, you can make the argument that Mintz cost Syracuse this game.

Illinois Starting the Season Well Before Hosting Syracuse

The Fighting Illini are 6-1 the start the season with the only loss coming to now-No. 3 Virginia this past week. They also own a win over Pac-12 powerhouse UCLA. Illinois is ranked No. 16 in the current AP Top 25 poll.

Illinois is 18th in the nation in adjusted shot quality and second on defense. Syracuse, meanwhile, ranks 85th on offense and 116th on the defensive side of this statistic. This means that as bad as it’s been for the Orange, it could be worse.

We did see Syracuse compete well with St. John’s last week, losing in overtime in the only game where they have been an underdog this year.

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Will Mintz Atone for His Ejection for Syracuse vs. Illinois?

Mintz is averaging 16 points per game and has been a factor in Syracuse’s games despite his freshman status before his ejection early in the Bryant game. Freshman Justin Taylor scored 25 to try and pick up Mintz, but fellow guard Joseph Girard III has struggled in his last two games after going for a career-best 31 in an overtime win against Richmond last Monday.

Will Syracuse Remain Composed vs. Illinois in First True Road Game?

Another potential problem for what turned out to be an undisciplined team on Saturday is that the Orange will be in a hostile road environment for the first time this season. Illinois, meanwhile, is 4-0 at home and riding a six-game winning streak at the State Farm Center.

Syracuse vs. Illinois Odds

The Orange opened as 11.5-point underdogs at Caesars Sportsbook, and the line has gotten longer for the Orange as Tuesday has gone on. Here is a look at the current odds:

Syracuse Orange+12.5144+600
(16) Illinois Illini-12.5144-900

The Orange have lost three of their last five games and are 1-4 against the spread in those five contests. On the other hand, the Illini are 3-1 ATS in their four home games this year. Syracuse is scoring 75 points per game but allowing 70. Illinois is ahead by about 10 points on each side of the ball, averaging 85 PPG and allowing 61.5 per contest.

Illinois’ effective shooting from the field will be difficult for Syracuse’s weak defense on the year to contain. Terrence Shannon Jr., a transfer from Texas Tech, leads Illinois with 20 points and six rebounds per game and is shooting nearly 50% from 3-point range.

Expect Syracuse to try and prove that they’re better than their 3-3 record and recent performances against Bryant and Colgate, but Illinois will provide too much of a step-up in competition for the Orange to hang tonight.

Prediction: Illinois 80, Syracuse 66 (ILL -12.5, OVER 144)

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