Following a definitive blowout of San Diego State, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team moves on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Waiting for them there are the West Virginia Mountaineers, a three-seed that knocked Morehead State out of the tournament late last night.
Obviously we want to believe this Syracuse team has enough chaos magic in them to make another surprise Sweet 16 appearance as a double-digit seed. But can they actually pull it off? In advance of tonight’s tip-off at 5:15 p.m. ET (on CBS), the TNIAAM staff weighs in.
West Virginia 80, Syracuse 75
As you’ll see down below, we’ve all recognized that this is an offensive-focused West Virginia team. Compare the raw scoring numbers and you’ll find that both teams are eerily similar. Syracuse averages 75.9 points per game while West Virginia averages 77.5. Defensively, the Orange allow 70.4 points per game while the Mountaineers allow 71.9.
The big difference between the two teams can be seen in their last games. Even though Syracuse and West Virginia had 30-point scorers in Buddy Boeheim and Miles McBride, the Mountaineers had three other double-digit scorers in their win against Morehead State. While Syracuse had two others double-digit scorers against San Diego State, the only consistent scorer was Boeheim. As such, WVU’s offensive diversity might be too much for Boeheim to overcome by himself.
West Virginia 76, Syracuse 71
WVU’s defense isn’t better than San Diego State’s, but their offense is — and I doubt they’ll make the same mistakes the Aztecs did when it comes to chucking threes for much of the game. The Mountaineers have options to drive it inside, which will open up more looks and potentially create some foul trouble for SU as well. I think the Orange make this a battle, but ultimately, they probably need too much of what went right vs. SDSU to repeat itself against a better ‘Eers team.
West Virginia 84, Syracuse 80
Just like Buddy Boeheim, Mountaineers guard Miles McBride is coming off of a 30-point performance in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia boasts the No. 10 offense in the country according to Ken Pom offensive efficiency, so this game might be played in the 80s. Derek Culver has the potential to disrupt the 2-3 zone down low and it doesn’t take a wild imagination to envision Sean McNeil hitting multiple 3s. I think West Virginia should be able to get on the offensive glass and Syracuse falls just shy of making the second weekend.
Syracuse 78, West Virginia 75
Derek Culver is going to be the key to this game. If the Orange can limit his impact inside they stand a good chance of winning. This isn’t the Press Virginia team you remember from the Big East, these Mountaineers are winning by getting on the offense boards and drawing fouls. Syracuse’s bench players shut down SDSU’s penetration and they might be needed again tonight to do the same. Syracuse advanced with only Buddy Boeheim scoring effectively on Friday so if a couple other guys can pick up their production it could be a return to the Sweet 16.
Now it’s your turn...
Who wins this second round game between Syracuse and West Virginia?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and WE ARE SO VERY SORRY
West Virginia, and well, it was fun while it lasted