After taking care of business in Dayton, the Indiana Hoosiers are in the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight year. IU will face the 4 seed in the East Region, the Syracuse Orange, on Thursday night. This is the first meeting in the tournament between these two teams since the famous Keith Smart jumper in the 1987 championship game simply known as “The Shot.” The game will be played in the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. where Syracuse has once already played when they got destroyed by Georgetown on March 9th. The Orange shot an abysmal 32% (15-47) from the field that game and only managed to score 39 points. Let’s hope for a repeat performance.
There are three permanents in this world: death, taxes, and Syracuse’s zone defense. Jim Boeheim has been running it for years and he looks for the right type of players and athletes that will properly fit his system when he recruits. This team is long, athletic and pretty dang good at it. The ‘Cuse are 10th in defense efficiency, 8th in steal percentage, and the best shot blocking team in the country in terms of block percentage. Many times when this team struggles it can be contributed to a lack of offensive production. They are pretty lucky to even be in the Sweet 16 after going 12 minutes without a field goal against California in the third round. Tom Crean coached against the zone twice while at Marquette so that should help out somewhat when trying to prepare for something none of the current players on IU’s roster have seen.
With that, here is the scouting report for tomorrow night’s Sweet 16 match-up:
Game time: 9:45 p.m. Thursday, March 28, 2013
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery and Rachel Nichols)
Syracuse Orange: 28-9 4-Seed 12KP
#20 Brandon Triche: 6-4 210 Sr. G 13.8ppg 3.4rpg 3.5apg
-Brandon is All-Big East third team and the senior leader of this team. With the game on the line, Boeheim will look to him to go make a play and he prefers attacking the basket over settling for the outside jumper. As the season has gone along Triche and MCW have made quite the dynamic duo at the guard positions.
#1 Michael Carter-Williams: 6-6 185 So. G 11.8ppg 4.8rpg 7.6apg
-MCW has improved so much from last year. He was a second-team All-Big East selection and was third in the country at 7.7 assists per game. Because he gets so many assists, a lot of people overlook the fact that he still averages 3.5 turnovers a game but that can be somewhat inflated due to the sheer amount of time the ball is in his hand. MCW is always looking for the steal on the defensive side and gets an impressive 2.7 a game. His 3-point shot has been way off this year as he is only shooting 28% (31-111).
#5 C.J. Fair: 6-8 215 Jr. F 14.5ppg 6.9rpg 0.8apg
-C.J. has been impressive this year scoring in double figures in all but seven games so far. It will be interesting who Crean elects to put on him because he is 6-8 and likes to do a majority of his work inside. My guess would be Watford on Fair and Oladipo on Southerland but the Hoosiers may just go zone if they have to. Fair is down low on the zone and like the other low post players is always looking to block some shots.
#43 James Southerland: 6-8 215 Sr. F 13.7ppg 5.3rpg 1.1apg
-James is 6-8 but does his damage from outside. If there is one guy the Hoosiers can’t lose on defense it is him because he is shooting 41% (79-195) from three this year.
#25 Rakeem Christmas: 6-9 242 So. F 5.3ppg 4.7rpg 0.2apg
-Rakeem starts because of his rebounding and shot blocking abilities. Coming in he is averaging 1.9 blocks per game as the anchor in the zone defense. Offensively he is probably the last guy the ‘Cuse want to see have it out of their starting five.
Coming off the bench:
#12 Baye Keita: 6-10 215 Jr. C 3.8ppg 3.8rpg 0.2apg
-I personally believe Keita will be much more effective in this game than Rakeem will be. Keita will be able to run with Zeller down the floor and is a bigger threat on the offensive boards. Against Cal he was solid with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
#3 Jerami Grant Fr. – F
#10 Trevor Cooney Fr. – G
Keys to the game:
- The most glaring attribute of this Syracuse team is their size. The Orange’s backcourt of Triche and Carter-Williams are 6’4″ and 6’6″ respectively. That means 6′ guards Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell are going to have to really bring it defensively to make up for the lack of height. Hulls and Ferrell have been guarding bigger guys all year but Triche and C-W are All Big-East caliber of players. Neither player excels shooting the three so maybe Crean elects to go zone to keep them out of the paint.
- The X-Factor in this game will be Will Sheehey. He has the athletic ability and size to guard just about anybody on Syracuse’s roster. Look for Will to sneak around finding holes in the Syracuse’s defense and then knock down the mid-range jumpers he loves to take. He also can be a major factor on the offensive boards.
- The two best ways to break this zone is getting out in transition and knocking down the open threes when you get them. Syracuse wants you to use a lot of shot clock so that you are forced into a long jumper. If the Hoosiers can push the ball and then get constant movement they can run circles around this zone but that is a lot easier said than done.
- IU can’t afford to let the Orange come out and get an early 8 or 10 point lead. Once Syracuse has that lead they can sit back and really pounce on you defensively while you are rushing to get back into the game. Make Syracuse beat you on the offense end and your chances of winning become higher.