St. John's vs. #2 Syracuse preview: A Garden clash for New York bragging rights?

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

A much anticipated matchup could give the winner New York bragging rights.

After the game against Fordham officially got out of hand, the chants started to ring throughout Madison Square Garden.

"We want 'Cuse", "We want 'Cuse."

There is no doubt that the Red Storm fan base has been looking forward to Sunday afternoon's nonconference (sounds weird, right?) clash against Syracuse, very similar to the opening game against Wisconsin.  There have been many different opinions swirling around both squads, on whether this game is a rivalry and who can more justifiably call itself  "New York's Team."

On Sunday, it will be time to lace them up, and finally play ball.   #2 Syracuse (9-0) will be coming to the "World's Most Famous Arena" to face the "hosting" St. John's Red Storm (6-2). Tip off is slated for 12 PM and can be seen on Fox Sports 1. The rekindling of this old Big East rivalry will be called by the much anticipated duo of Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery.

SEE ALSO: Does SJU/Cuse Have the Same Meaning? // Time Machine: St. John's vs. Syracuse

Two years ago, when Jim Boeheim and his Syracuse team came to New York City, the Garden looked like a New York Knicks game.  Except for the red areas behind the basket, the seats were blasted with orange.  This Sunday, it could look a bit different, with more St. John's red splashed throughout the Garden due to the Storm's new hype this season.  Expect to it to be a loud atmosphere with a lot of energy out of both fan bases and both teams.

Scouting the matchup

St. John's put on an absolutely unbelievable shooting performance against Fordham last week, and Syracuse is once again a National Championship threat.  Unfortunately, for Red Storm fans, it is very unlikely that they will have that type of performance again.  Yet Lavin's squad will seek to continue the momentum on the offensive end.

The Red Storm had five players in double figures against a weak Fordham zone.  St. John's, who before Fordham had struggled to get its offense going against zones, faces of the best zone defensive schemes the nation has to offer.  Look for St. John's to try and get out in transition, attempting to keep the Orange from setting up their defense in the halfcourt.  St. John's moves very well in transition and can often have five players on the floor who can handle the ball in the open floor (with the exception of shot-blocker Chris Obekpa).

Players to keep a lookout for on the St. John's side include Orlando Sanchez, who scored a career high 19 points in last week's win, and Sir`Dominic Pointer, who finished just one rebound shy of a triple double against Fordham.  Also, with Syracuse's strong zone sets, will Max Hooper and/or Marc-Antoine Bourgault get considerable playing time against the athletic Orange?  The two went 4-6 from beyond the arc last game.  And, as always, St. John's will need a strong, efficient performance from D`Angelo Harrison to have a good shot on Sunday.

For the Orange, keep an eye out for sophomore guard Trevor Cooney.  He has emerged on the scene for Boeheim's undefeated Syracuse squad, scoring 15.3 points per contest and shooting just under 50% from three-point range.

A match-up that shouldn't be ignored involves the two players from Brewster Academy, St. John's JaKarr Sampson and Syracuse's C.J. Fair.  Both are very similar players, in terms of size and styles.  Both are versatile who could play out on the wing, share similar physical attributes and aren't afraid to go inside.  Sampson and Fair both can hit the mid-range jumper and are no slouches in the athletic department.  It would be great to see those two going at it on the court.  If St. John's plays their man-to-man defense look for Sampson to guard Fair.  All and all, this game is going to be a lot of fun, potentially for the title of "New York's Team."

Prediction

St. John's will have trouble handling Syracuse, who just has too much fire power on both sides of the ball.  Jim Boeheim will get the better of Steve Lavin in first installment of this new-look Big East-ACC rivalry.

Syracuse 84 St. John's 70

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