We’ll leave this top conversation short. The Syracuse Orange made the Sweet 16, and we’re apologizing again. But despite the apologies, most reviews of SU’s performance have actually been pretty positive -- some even throwing direct praise the Orange’s way.
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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim’s blueprint for bullying past more talented teams is simple. The Orange cut off driving and passing lanes, leaving their opponents only one option: to shoot. It’s a risky proposition. Teams that get hot from deep—which Syracuse played quite a few of this season—run circles around the Orange’s defense. But if they can close out shooters and limit long-range makes, more often than not, they’ll leave with a victory.
Yet these Orange not only snuck into the NCAA Tournament — as the final at-large selection — but they’ve also won three games in five days. They’ve punched their ticket to the Sweet 16 and a meeting with second-seeded Duke on Friday. In Omaha. A delicious steak dinner awaits.
“Kip told me that my parents would be able to get two tickets to every away game,’’ Bayer said, referring to a perk that’s normally reserved for scholarship players. “I was like ‘How is that going happen?’ He said ‘You’re on scholarship.’’’
The upset marks the third time in five days (don’t forget that First Four play-in game) that the Orange’s zone has held a top-40 scoring offense under 60 points—Arizona State managed just 56 points, while TCU went for 52 points. Now, very soon, Syracuse will have to keep up with a team capable of pushing the bounds of that defense, as the Orange will now move on to face Duke in the Sweet 16.
Syracuse’s 2-3 zone works but it makes college basketball unwatachable (USA Today: For the Win)
I’m not going waste my time arguing there’s anything fundamentally wrong with Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. I don’t think Jim Boeheim’s favored defense is gimmicky or that his players have it easier on the defensive end compared to man-to-man teams. I don’t think it should be banned from the sport. I just hate it. I hate it for the simple fact that it makes watching basketball less fun.
Syracuse was forced to find its most unlikely hero (New York Post)