The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is set to square off against the San Diego State Aztecs in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament this Friday. The No. 11-seeded Orange and No. 6-seeded Aztecs will tip-off at 9:40 p.m. ET on CBS.
In the interim, much has been expectedly written and talked about regarding the matchup.
While the Syracuse 2-3 zone hasn’t been as strong this season as it traditionally has been in the past, the defense is of obvious intrigue given Syracuse’s heritage and of course, Jim Boeheim.
As such, the zone has been the focal point of the discussion thus far along with Syracuse’s double-digit seed history. Check that, and other Syracuse-related links below:
Zoning in: Aztecs must decipher Syracuse’s famed defense in NCAA Tournament | (San Diego Tribune)
It is why coaches annually wince on Selection Sunday when they see their team paired with Syracuse, knowing exactly what’s coming, knowing three, four, five days of practice and film sessions still might not be enough. Fewer and fewer teams play zone defense in college basketball these days, meaning you have fewer and fewer opportunities to face it. The 16th-ranked Aztecs (23-4) have seen it once all season, back in January in a pair of games against an overmatched, undermanned Air Force team that finished 5-20.
And that was a 3-2 matchup zone, with different concepts and, ahem, levels of athleticism.
No. 16 San Diego State wary of Syracuse zone | (Yahoo!)
“They’ll be interesting,” said coach Brian Dutcher of 16th-ranked San Diego State. “We’ve seen very limited zone all year.”
The Aztecs, who won the Mountain West regular-season and conference tournament titles, are known more for their defense than their offense. So this could be a low-scoring, grind-it-out battle with both offense trying to find their rhythm.
“There’s no set they haven’t seen and there’s no rotation they haven’t made,” Dutcher said of Syracuse’s zone. “It’s going to be going against the team that’s mastered their trade. This is what they do at a high level.”
If you think that Williams and Izzo have been around a long time, just check out Boeheim’s history. He has been at Syracuse since 1976 and has posted a 70.7% winning percentage during that time. And during the NCAA Tournament, he has been solid as well.
Boeheim has posted a 23-5 record in the first round of the tournament dating back to the tournament’s expansion to 64 teams in 1985. Like Izzo, his Orange team has been seeded a variety of different numbers ranging from the No. 1 seed to No. 11. The only seed in that range that Syracuse hasn’t been? No. 9.
Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said on Tuesday that all members of the men’s and women’s programs have tested negative for the coronavirus so far. Players had to test negative for seven consecutive days before traveling to the NCAA tournament and will be subject to daily testing at the event, including two rounds before being permitted to practice. That is the protocol being used for every team at the event.
Hall Of Fame Coaches Could Be The Giant-Killers This Year | (FiveThirtyEight)
14. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Orange — Boeheim played three seasons at Syracuse (1963-66), coming off the bench his first two seasons before becoming a starter as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.1 assists during the 1965-66 campaign, leading the Orange to the Elite Eight. Boeheim went on to play professionally with the Scranton Miners of the ABL.
No. 11 Syracuse over No. 6 San Diego State: Both San Diego State and Syracuse boast stingy defenses, with the former allowing 70-plus points just four times and Jim Boeheim’s signature 2-3 zone paying dividends for the latter, though not to the same degree as it has in his best seasons. And while Brian Dutcher’s Aztecs are clearly the better team, matching that talented defense with a balanced, multi-level scoring attack, watch out for the Orange.
SDSU vs. Syracuse Preview: Scouting Syracuse | (East Village Times)
Episode 293- Syracuse Basketball: NCAA Tourney Madness/San Diego State Preview! | (Cuse Militia Podcast)
Syracuse NCAA Tournament Preview & Predictions with Ryan Blackwell | (The Scorer’s Table Podcast with Eric Devendorf)
If you missed any of our coverage since Selection Sunday, check that below:
- Syracuse selected as 11-seed in NCAA Tournament
- Tip time and how to watch Syracuse-San Diego State (Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET)
- Jim Boeheim confident Kadary Richmond will be able to play against San Diego State
- As a kid, SDSU’s Matt Mitchell wanted to be Carmelo Anthony
- San Diego State hasn’t seen a 2-3 zone all season
- Early look at Syracuse’s Midwest Region
- Syracuse’s history with SDSU is brief, yet memorable
- Syracuse’s history as a double-digit seed in March Madness
- TNIAAP: Men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament preview
Also, the ACC Network previewed the matchup and San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher appeared on ESPN2. Catch those here:
What did we miss? Feel free to drop your own relevant links in the comment section below.