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. Kennesaw State hires former Boston College head coach Al Skinner

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Skinner_web

    Skinner was the longtime coach of Boston College.

  2. New Alabama head coach Avery Johnson touring with Nick Saban

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Avery Johnson AP

    Avery Johnson is touring with Nick Saban to get more familiar with being a head coach at Alabama.

  3. UAA Day 2: The return of Seventh Woods; Markelle Fultz is the real deal; Josh Jackson’s up-and-down day

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    The Under Armour Association has plenty of talented players in its league this season, including former mixtape star Seventh Woods and the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, Josh Jackson.

  4. Nike EYBL Day 2: Malik Monk gets busy; Harry Giles has a quiet outing; Wendell Carter steps up

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Malik Monk had a dominating effort on Saturday while Harry Giles didn’t make much of an impact.

  5. No. 1 in Class of 2016 Josh Jackson has a monster outing at Under Armour Association (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Josh Jackson went for 41 points, seven assists and six rebounds at the Under Armour Association.

  6. Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor returning for junior season

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:19 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Taylor averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game last season, and his decision to return is a nice boost for head coach Shaka Smart.

  7. Iowa State hosts three players, including two who would be eligible immediately

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Graduate students Max Bielfeldt and Tyler Harris were in Ames this weekend, as was former Marquette commit Nick Noskowiak.

  8. Manhattan adds former Ball State point guard Zavier Turner

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ball State v Marquette Getty Images

    Turner won MAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2013-14.

  9. Former Rutgers forward transfers to Tulsa

    Apr 25, 2015, 5:59 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Junior Etou averaged 7.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season.

  10. Former Memphis forward transferring to Alabama

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    King averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season at Memphis.

  11. Mixtape for Duke’s next point guard, Derryck Thornton (VIDEO)

    Apr 25, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline, Under Armor Kelly Kline, Under Armor

    Thornton will fill the void left by Tyus Jones at the point.

  12. Oregon lands four-star Class of 2016 wing

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Dana Altman AP

    Oregon landed a commitment from a former San Diego State pledge.

  13. Maryland guard will return for one more season

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    image

    Maryland returns another reserve guard for next season.

  14. EYBL Day 1: Jayson Tatum vs. Michael Porter Jr.; De’Aaron Fox, Jarred Vanderbilt go for big outings

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    The D1Circuit The D1Circuit

    The opening night of the EYBL had some high-level matchups and a great performance from the Houston Hoops duo of De’Aaron Fox and Jarred Vanderbilt.

  15. POSTERIZED: Class of 2017 four-star guard M.J. Walker throws down on a defender

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    image

    Get out of the way if M.J. Walker is sizing you up for a dunk.

  16. Report: Mark Tollefson transfers to Arizona, eligible immediately

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:51 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Kaleb Tarczewski decided to return to Arizona earlier in the day.

  17. Duke raises 2015 national championship banner (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 8.03.53 PM

    The fifth banner is now hanging in Cameron Indoor Stadium.