Skip to content

Final Four Preview: What you need to know about Syracuse

Apr 1, 2013, 1:03 PM EDT

Syracuse Orange guard Michael Carter-Williams reacts after defeating the Indiana Hoosiers in their East Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Washington

Syracuse has really had a storybook season.

The Orange looked great early in the season, but they really began to struggle when James Southerland went out with his academic issues. It didn’t get any easier for the Orange when he got back, as Jim Boeheim struggled to find a way to get his team to buy back into his rotation.

The group was disjointed. There didn’t have much leadership. Their season ended with a 22 point whipping at the hands of arch-nemesis Georgetown. And then there was the 16 point collapse in the Big East tournament title game. And the fire that ripped through Michael Carter-Williams childhood home.

But it all came together for the Orange, as they have no made their way into the Final Four for the first time since Melo had cornrows and wore Orange.

How they got here: Syracuse beat No. 13 seed Montana 81-34 in the opening round, following that up with a win over No. 12 Cal to advance to the Sweet 16. There, in Georgetown’s home arena, Syracuse turned up their defense to a different level, knocking off both Indiana and Marquette and allowing a grand total of just 89 points in the process. It wasn’t pretty. But it worked.

Odds to win the title: 17:4

Read through all of our Final Four coverage here

Why they can win: That defense. Syracuse has allowed just 0.72 PPP in the NCAA tournament. By contrast, Stephen F. Austin led the nation in PPP defense this season at 0.843. To put that into layman’s terms, in a standard, 64-possession basketball game, Syracuse would be allowing about eight points less, on average, than the stingiest defensive team in the country. SFA plays in the Southland. Syracuse beat Indiana on Thursday. Think about that.

Why they won’t win: Can we fully trust the Syracuse back court yet? Don’t get me wrong, Carter-Williams was simply exceptional this weekend, from both a performance and a leadership standpoint. He scored when he needed to score. He distributed when he needed to distribute. He defended, he rebounded, he did it all. But he’s also been inconsistent this season and is still adapting to that leadership role. Given how much he played last year, hes basically a freshman this season.

Will he be able to handle the pressure of the Final Four? Will Brandon Triche, who has had some turnover and consistency issues late in the season, play well enough to win a national title? Both players have had turnover issues this season. What happens if they get matched up with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith again?

Key stat: 15.2%. 14-92. That’s what opponents are shooting from three against the Orange in the four NCAA tournament games. Think about that. Montana shot 31 threes. Marquette shot 25. Indiana was 3-15 from beyond the arc. Michigan is a team that likes to shoot threes. Is that a recipe for disaster?

Game-changer: James Southerland. He’s the most explosive scorer for the Orange, and he’s also their best perimeter shooter. At 6-foot-8, he’s the perfect fit for Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, but also spreads the floor and creates driving lands for the Cuse guards.

Prediction?: I like the Orange knocking off Michigan, but I don’t think that they would knock off Louisville if they played them for a fourth time in the title game.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Temple lands their second top 150 recruit in the 2015 class

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    The Owls may not have landed Jalen Brunson, but they did bring in an elite “legacy” in the back court.

  2. Three-star 2015 guard commits to Long Beach State

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT

    Reebok Reebok

    Long Beach State has four commits in 2015.

  3. More changes to UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT

    Pauley Pavilion

    Pauley Pavilion has gone under plenty of changes in the last few seasons and dealt with a flooding issue several months back.

  4. UNLV lands four-star 2016 forward

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline Kelly Kline

    UNLV continues to tap into the local powerhouse.

  5. Washington adds fourth commit in Rivals150 forward

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:47 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    All four commits are ranked in the Rivals150.

  6. Kentucky’s John Calipari hired a director of statistical analytics this summer

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    John Calipari’s loaded roster has required a new position on the Kentucky staff.

  7. Rice Owls go through preseason Navy SEAL workouts (VIDEO)

    Sep 29, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT

    Rice Athletics Rice Athletics

    New head coach Mike Rhoades is from the Shaka Smart coaching tree.

  8. UNLV transfer receives waiver to play immediately at UT-Martin

    Sep 29, 2014, 12:47 PM EDT

    Deville Smith, Skylar Spencer AP

    Deville Smith has completed the tough task of playing for four different schools in four seasons.

  9. Marcus Smart’s mom reportedly hospitalized the day he shoved Texas Tech fan

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:53 AM EDT

    oklahoma state marcus smart AP

    This provides more context into why Smart did what he did.

  10. Kentucky, Arizona top Blue Ribbon’s preseason top 25 rankings

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    bv5s4hqcmaeawma

    There is only one truly strange ranking in this top 25.

  11. Georgia Tech unveils new gold uniforms (VIDEO)

    Sep 28, 2014, 11:40 PM EDT

    BRIAN GREGORY BRIAN GREGORY

    The Yellow Jackets will have new uniforms as they look to account for the loss of four of their top five scorers from last season.

  12. UConn junior guard hopeful that hard work will result in more opportunities

    Sep 28, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Omar Calhoun Omar Calhoun

    After having to worry about rehabbing from two hip surgeries last summer, Omar Calhoun could simply work on his game this summer.

  13. Summer highlights of USC commits Benne Boatwright and Chimezie Metu (VIDEO)

    Sep 28, 2014, 8:36 PM EDT

    Andy Enfield Andy Enfield

    The task of rebuilding the USC program will be a difficult one, but these two forwards will help matters next season.

  14. Official visit to South Carolina goes well for junior college center

    Sep 28, 2014, 7:05 PM EDT

    Frank Martin Frank Martin

    The Gamecocks are looking to add even more depth to their front court in the Class of 2015.

  15. St. John’s guards don’t lack confidence as 2014-15 season approaches

    Sep 28, 2014, 5:04 PM EDT

    D'Angelo Harrison AP

    If the Red Storm are to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001, their guards will have to be as good as they say they are.