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Wednesday, November 23, 2011
W2W4: Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech

By Kieran Darcy

Here are three things to watch for in Wednesday night's game between No. 5 Syracuse (4-0) and Virginia Tech (3-0), the second semifinal of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.

The game will start at approximately 9:30 p.m., following the first semifinal pitting Stanford against Oklahoma State. The second game will air on ESPNU.

BIG CONTROVERSY: Syracuse is among the top-ranked teams in the country, but what everyone's talking about is the situation regarding longtime assistant coach Bernie Fine. Fine is currently on administrative leave, after molestation allegations resurfaced last week, which Fine denies.

On Tuesday, head coach Jim Boeheim reiterated his support for Fine. We'll see how the crowd reacts to the Orange on Wednesday night. Syracuse always draws a strong crowd at the Garden.

ON THE COURT: The Orange began their season by demolishing four mid-major teams at the Carrier Dome, by an average of 32.5 points. They are averaging 90 points per game as a team.

Three players are currently averaging double figures for Syracuse: 6-foot-8 junior James Southerland (13.8 ppg), 6-foot-4 sophomore Dion Waiters (13.8 ppg) and 6-foot-7 senior Kris Joseph (13.5). But this team is extremely deep, with several other players capable of big-time scoring outputs.

THE OTHER SIDE: Virginia Tech, picked to finish sixth in the ACC in the conference's preseason poll, has won its first three games by double-digit margins. Six-foot-five senior guard Dorenzo Hudson is pacing the team at 19.3 points per game, and poured in 31 in the Hokies' 78-63 win over Florida International that earned them the trip to New York.

But Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg also brought in the No. 12 recruiting class in the country this season according to ESPN's rankings, including three top-100 players. That group is headlined by 6-foot-7 forward Dorian Finney-Smith, ranked the No. 18 high school senior in the country last year, who is averaging 8.3 points, 11 rebounds and 4.3 assists through three games. Fellow freshman Robert Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard, is averaging 11 points per game.