The wider viewing public wasn’t necessarily surprised that the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team made it to the Sweet 16 once again as a double-digit seed. However, there’s still the question of “how” it happened. The zone’s certainly a big part, and the Athletic’s Sam Vecenie dug into that already this week.
Getting to the root of how this occurs in light of middling ACC results in recent years, he spoke to ACC assistants about the lack of familiarity and short timeframe in the NCAA Tournament being keys to this recent run of success. There’s also the fact that the zone has just been better of late.
Another major factor has simply been shooting success, as CBB Analytics points out. Syracuse has been one of the most accurate three-point shooting teams in the tournament so far — AND they’ve been taking close 30 shots per game through two contests. That’s incredible efficiency thus far that’s helped fast starts and allowed them to bury rallies against both West Virginia and San Diego State.
On top of that is the fact that they’ve hit twos at a great clip as well. SU’s also taken fewer of those per game than any remaining team. Still, hitting over 50% of shots from inside the arc makes it hard to camp out beyond the three-point line to ALSO prevent those.
All of that and more below in today’s links:
I reached out to four ACC assistant coaches, as well as a coach outside the conference who has had to prep for Syracuse in the tournament on the fly. The questions I asked were simple: Why does this keep happening? Why does Syracuse consistently struggle in ACC play, then go on these deep NCAA Tournament runs? The answers were intuitive, but telling in terms of just how tough it is for coaches and players to deal with Syracuse on short notice. I’ve split this into two sections, covering both the defense and offense.
Her favorite basketball moment was celebrating Syracuse’s win over Florida State, which resulted in a game-winning layup at the buzzer by freshman Kamilla Cardoso. Mangakahia said her favorite moment off the court was her relationship with Hillsman, which had grown over the years, especially during her battle with breast cancer. “I know he does care about me a lot,” Mangakahia said. “He’s really been there for me and I can’t even explain how much Coach Q means to me.”
Why does it always seem like Syracuse is at its best when they have a double-digit seed? The Orange were again selected as one of the last teams in the tournament, and are again marching to the second weekend. Jim Boeheim’s zone defense has stifled No. 6 seed San Diego State and No. 3 seed West Virginia so far. Boeheim’s son Buddy is becoming a breakout tournament star, combining for 55 points and 13 three-pointers across the two wins.
Syracuse is now 9-2 as a double-digit seed in NCAA tournament games. Syracuse’s nine wins are the second-most for a double-digit seed since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 64 teams in 1985. Gonzaga ranks first with 10 such wins. But Syracuse’s 9-2 record is the highest winning percentage (.818) for a school when it was seeded 10 or lower. Gonzaga, at 10-7, has a .588 winning percentage as a double-digit seed.
The 2021 Sweet 16 ranked top to bottom (NCAA.com)
Just spoke to UH coach Kelvin Sampson, who said that DeJon Jarreau hasn't practiced the past three days. He's hoping he'll be at 70 or 75-percent for the Syracuse game. "I expect him to play," Sampson said. "It’s just a matter of how close to being adequate he is going to be."— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) March 24, 2021
Former Jets assistant joining Babers’ Syracuse staff (Football Scoop)
The NCAA Is Leaving Money On The Table (FiveThirtyEight)
Mekhi Mason Schedules Syracuse Visit (All Syracuse)
Let's take a look at team shooting through the first weekend of #MarchMadness on the Men's side:— CBB Analytics (@CBBAnalytics) March 24, 2021
• #Sweet16 teams are highlighted
• 1 graph for 2-pointers, 1 for 3-pointers
• each graph has frequency (fga/game) on X-axis, efficiency (FG%) on Y-axis pic.twitter.com/J4v81XMrBX