Somehow, the Syracuse Orange have a reasonable path to the Sweet Sixteen. They simply need to defeat the 15-seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Of course, they just beat the Michigan State Spartans so it's not like they're not capable of doing the same thing to SU.
Can the Orange keep it going and make a huge statement to the experts by getting back to the Sweet Sixteen? Let's see what everyone thinks.
Syracuse 64 - Middle Tennessee 57
I was really impressed with MTSU but I'm hoping that was just a once in a lifetime game for them. I think the 2-3 zone will give the Blue Raiders issues, as they've never seen a 2-3 with this kind of length. The Orange will need to neutralize Reggie Upshaw Jr. and the NCAA's leader in 3-point field goal percentage, Giddy Potts. Ultimately, I think they will find a way to get it done and advance to the Sweet 16.
Syracuse 68 - Middle Tennessee 59
Yes, MTSU looked really incredible in the win against Michigan State. There's a chance this is a talented team that is peaking now, and will make a Cinderella run to the second weekend, and we just happen to be in the line of fire. Based on their entire body of work, however, I'm more inclined to believe that it is a good 15 that played the game of its life and is very well-coached. According to KenPom, MTSU is by far the lowest ranked team left in the field, even weighing in the MSU game. If the Blue Raiders are the team they've been all year, SU should handle them. If the slipper fits, though...
Syracuse 67 - Middle Tennessee 61
Momentum and the crowd would seem to favor MTSU, but this short turnaround is usually where the Syracuse zone thrives. If the Orange can take care of the ball as they did in the 2nd half against Dayton, they should be able to advance. On offense, Syracuse needs to get more guys moving North-South instead of East-West and hopefully this is one of those Michael Gbinije games where he's scoring efficiently inside and out.
Syracuse 65 - Middle Tennessee 62
Here's how I look at it. MTSU just put everything they had into dominating one of the favorites to win the National Championship. While that might sound like bad news for us, it also means they expended so much emotional energy trying to win that game. There's a good chance the tank is empty today, or at least not nearly as full as it was on Friday. Law of averages says they come back down to earth. If Syracuse can just play well, they should be able to outlast and move on.
How about you?