Syracuse students agree: Sweet 16 is great. Elite 8 is better.
Syracuse was a Sweet 16 team all year I said it at the beginning of the year and I said it before the Tournament started. Especially when the bracket and seeding was revealed. I haven't changed my mind. Anything less would have been a big disappointment. Anything more is pure gravy. Especially if Syracuse manages to take out the #1 seed in the East Region. That would be Indiana. The Hoosiers, led by familiar foe in Tom Crean (former coach at Marquette [Crean has never beaten the Orange]), are ready to make the Elite 8 and possibly go the distance in Atlanta. Having spent more time at #1 this season than any other team, they are, besides Louisville, the ones with the best odds of going the distance and cutting down some nets. They have two very big weapons in post man Cody Zeller (16.7ppg) and POY candidate Victor Oladipo (13.6ppg). But really this team has no weak players on offense. Zeller will be the key to Indiana beating the zone. The offense will have to run through him passing into the interior of the zone and then either kicking the ball out, posting up, or turning and taking a jumper. The key to Syracuse is doing two things well. First, the guards will have to drive on the Indiana defense to the basket to create roll and replace action and get to the free throw line again like they did against Cal. James Southerland will also have to hit some shots from outside and get and stay hot. If Syracuse manages to do that, they have a real shot in this game. I actually see Zeller having early and continued success if he gets passes low near the basket. However, if he's too far out in the paint I see both Keita and Christmas shutting him down, with Southerland being able to help provide some coverage if they get beat. Also, the big X Factor is if CJ Fair will again have a consistently good game, as he has. If he starts hitting mid range shots and shots from the corners Syracuse will be in a good position to advance as well. I can see Syracuse jumping out to an early single digit lead before it's close at the half, with Indiana pulling away in the second half. I can also see Syracuse just barely able to hang on and beat Indiana. But to me the smart money is on Indiana winning this game and advancing to the Elite 8 by six. This game is available on CBS around 9:45pm ET and available online and on the March Madness app on your phone if you're in a bind. It should be a good game either way and making it this far is a lot better than most other teams have fared this season. Looking at you Georgetown!