Well, that was easy.
Wait, how was that so easy?
Can we always make it look that easy?
The 3-seed Syracuse Orange absolutely dominated the 14-seed Western Michigan Broncos from start to finish in their NCAA Tournament second-round game on Thursday. The Orange capitalized on eleven first-half Bronco turnovers and had the game well in hand at halftime, up 40-21. The inevitable second-half run never materialized and the Orange were basically in garbage time mode by the eight minute mark en route to a 77-53 victory that wasn't even that close.
Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney paced scoring in the first half but the end stats showcased a balanced attack by the Orange offense. Cooney led the way with 18 points while Ennis and Jerami Grant added 16 apiece and C.J. Fair had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Things went so well that Baye Keita hold on to the ball long enough to get a nice dunk along with his seven rebounds.
Quite simply, the first half was the best half of basketball we've seen this team play in months. Possibly all season long. The defense stymied Western Michigan's offense. The offense created scoring opportunities and the shots actually fell with consistency. If the Orange have truly sorted out their issues and can keep playing like this, expectations are extremely different all of a sudden.
The "be careful what you wish for" good news is that the Orange will not play 6-seed Ohio State on Saturday. Instead, they'll face the Dayton Flyers, who upset the Buckeyes in a thrilling finish earlier in the day. Throw out all that early scouting you did on OSU and get ready for a much more intense opponent.