A great man (who lost a lot of football games) once said, "The time for talk is over. The time for doing has begun." It is that time once again as the 3-seed Syracuse Orange kick off their 2014 NCAA Tournament run against the 14-seed Western Michigan Broncos. Let's just get right down to it. Will the Orange be upset? Will they win in heart-attack-inducing fashion? Will they actually cover the spread for once?
Let's see what the TNIAAM experts think...
Honestly, I don't know much about the Broncos so I am not going to spew out a scouting report.
Instead, I am going to hop on my fan wagon and believe Syracuse begins to find its early-season groove starting now. I just have a feeling. I just need to believe.
Syracuse 63 - Western Michigan 50
C.J. Fair finds his jumper, the zone trap forces turnovers to pull away midway through the second and Syracuse advances on in a closer-than-it-should-be game. In other words, classic 2014 Syracuse. Buckle up, the road may or may not be long, but it will be bumpy.
Syracuse 74 - Western Michigan 67
All I can think about is how
last year two years ago in the first round UNC Asheville scared SU. I'm not sure how it happened and then Syracuse rattled off a crazy run, but it did and thus I'm terrified about this year. This would be the year the Orange watch a late three sail in to knock them out of the first round. However there are certain rules that hold true every March: There aren't as many upsets as you may think and the three seed is RARELY upset. Thus I think this game is going to be close but Syracuse should pull off the win.
Syracuse wins 77-68 because my blonde gypsy told me so.
Normally the concern with the first NCAA tournament game is that the Orange will go up against one of those "live by the three, die by the three" mid-majors that will get hot and give Syracuse trouble. This isn't likely to be the case against the Broncos, who shoot only 33% from deep. Western Michigan has some size in the 6'11" Shayne Whittington but, otherwise, the regulars top out at 6'6". I expect this to be a game where Syracuse rides their overall size advantage to a W. I think we all know it'll be closer than it should be, though.
Syracuse 68 - Western Michigan 55
I knew absolutely nothing about Western Michigan before Sunday night. Even after reading about them for two days, I still don't know a lot. SU will obviously have a huge advantage when it comes to athleticism, coupled with the Broncos' lack of familiarity with the 2-3 zone. WM is a good shooting team overall at 46.6%, good for 61st in the nation, and a passable three-point shooting team at 33%. But from what I understand they aren't as likely to get white hot from outside as a team like Boston College or Duke, which is good news for SU.
Unless the Orange completely fall apart in every facet of their game they should win handily and advance to Saturday. I'll say SU takes this one 70-52.
Let's all relax here. Montana was a 13 seed last year and we all remember how that one went. Jerami Grant and Trevor Cooney will have some time to rest up and the offense will get a few practices before Saturday. As been well documented, Syracuse should have a pretty significant advantage in the turnover department. The Broncos may be able to hang on for a little while. But I don't expect this game to be competitive in the second half.
Syracuse 70- WMU 54
In the final scene of "Say Anything", Lloyd finally wins Diane's heart and escorts her on a transatlantic flight to her academic fellowship in England. Diane, an aviophobe, desperately clings on to Lloyd as he tries to calm her nerves:
LLOYD: Alright, high level air safety tips. If anything happens, it'll usually be in the first five minutes of the flight, right?
LLOYD: So when you hear the smoking sign go 'ding', you know everything's going to be okay.
DIANE: Good to know.
Magicians, WE are Diane in this scenario. We've had a bad month and are terrified of the journey ahead. We're asking ourselves, "where's the ding?"
Syracuse 73, Western Michigan 58
We'll all be annoyed when we're only up by single digits heading into the half, and WMU will keep it close for a while, but ultimately they can't solve the zone and turn it over too many times. SU gets something out of the transition game, and wins comfortably. Syracuse advances to play Dayton on Saturday.
Cuse 66 - WMU 51
Western Michigan has some experience against a zone defense this year (thanks, Eastern Michigan), and an ability to score points -- something Syracuse doesn't have, necessarily. That said, the Broncos are turnover-prone (14.1 per game), while the Orange have a penchant for forcing turnovers. Additionally, WMU lacks the same size as Syracuse inside, with just one player listed above 6'8". The key, beyond the obvious need for SU to score more points, will be shooting efficiency for Western Michigan. If they can cut down on volume-shooting in order to score (mostly David Brown) and utilize the drive-and-kick principles that have killed SU of late, this could be an upset in the making. But I think the Orange can get the job done here. It may not be easy, but C.J. Fair just needs to play a whole lot better than he did against NC State and also cede to Jerami Grant in the paint. As mentioned, SU has a size advantage, and should be able to utilize it to exploit the Broncos in the paint enough to grab the win.
Syracuse 73 - Western Michigan 64
I feel a little like Walter White being berated by Skylar reading all of these 70+ point predictions for Syracuse.
"Who are you talking about right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how many shots Trevor Cooney misses in a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe it. Do you know what would happen if Jerami Grant suddenly decided to stop going into games? A double-double good enough that it would be featured on Sportscenter goes belly up. Disappears! It ceases to exist without him. No, you clearly don't know who you're talking about, so let me clue you in. Syracuse is not in danger of scoring 70+, Skyler. Syracuse is IN danger. Tyler Ennis comes off a high screen and takes a shot and you think that always goes in? No. SYRACUSE IS THE ONE WHO SCORES IN THE 50's!"
Syracuse 59 - Western Michigan 52
Now it's your turn...
- 2014 NCAA Tournament: Jim Boeheim, C.J. Fair, Baye Keita Featured at Presser in Buffalo
- Thanks, Obama: President Picks Syracuse to Lose In Round of 32
- Syracuse Basketball: Q&A with ESPN's Rece Davis
- Syracuse Sports Make Me Drink: NCAA Tournament Preview
- Syracuse Basketball: Mike Hopkins Is On The Perpetual Short List