The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is averaging 5.2 blocks per game, which is good for 48th best in the country. Perhaps more telling, though, is that Syracuse is No. 1 in the nation in block percentage.
Per KenPom, Syracuse’s block percentage is 20.6 percent. Block percentage is simply the number of total blocks divided by opponents’ two-point field goal attempts. In other words, Syracuse is blocking just over one in every five two-point field goal attempts its opponents’ take.
Interestingly enough, second to Syracuse in that particular stat is Oklahoma State, who the Orange will face on Wednesday in the NIT Tip-Off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Cowboys’ block percentage is 20.3 percent.
Syracuse and Oklahoma State have gotten to that mark in different ways, both stylistically speaking and based on personnel. The Orange have played 2-3 zone on 95.8 percent of its defensive possessions (pressing the other 4.2 percent) while Oklahoma State has played man-to-man for 84.2 percent of its possessions.
Syracuse has blocked shots by committee out of the zone, while the Cowboys’ rely on 6-foot-10 big man Yor Anei. The sophomore is averaging 3.5 blocks per game, which is over 60 percent of the team’s total.
Most of Syracuse’s blocks have come from the wing, as Elijah Hughes leads the team in that category with 1.2 per game, while Quincy Guerrier is just behind with 1.0. Marek Dolezaj is getting 0.8 blocks per contest, as is junior center Bourama Sidibe.
Expect the Syracuse vs. Oklahoma State game to be a defensive contests for reasons beyond blocked shots. Both teams are top 35 in defensive efficiency (also KenPom).
It will be interesting to see if Jim Boeheim elects to go with Sidibe in the middle of the 2-3 zone for defensive purposes against a bigger, stronger team, in comparison to the Orange’s last four opponents, or whether he’ll insert Dolezaj at the five and look to bring Oklahoma State’s rim protector away from tin.