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Syracuse - Marquette Elite 8 Preview

Syracuse students agree: Might as well beat another Big East team to keep dancing.
Syracuse was in the game for a while, but Syracuse just came up 3 points short at Marquette earlier this season. It was during the five game stretch where the Syracuse offense looked about as good as a corpse. Now Syracuse has advanced further than most fans thought they would. Even Jim Boeheim figured he'd be in Disney World today than coaching a game. And Syracuse faces familiar foe in the Golden Eagles and Buzz Williams' high energy club. Devante Gardner scored 26 points in the last meeting by pounding the low post. Syracuse seemed to have no answer for Gardner, who not only pounded inside and got good shots, but then got fouled a lot and saw some free attempts from the line. Both of these teams are familiar with each other and both teams know what the other should do. Marquette should pound the paint and continue to get to the free throw line. Syracuse needs to drive the lane and either get good shots at the bucket or make some 3s, and get transition buckets. Obviously both Rakeem Christmas, but especially Baye Moussa Keita have stepped up on defense as of late. A very active zone will also be critical to not only focus turnovers off bad passes, but forcing Marquette to shoot jump shots, something that they are not good at, especially the three. However, that means Syracuse also needs to step up in rebounding as well. The team that wins the rebounding numbers in this game should win the game. Syracuse came three points short on Marquette's home floor. Washington, DC will be a mostly orange arena today. Syracuse should have some home court advantage and not only that but Syracuse knows what they have to do to stop Marquette. Syracuse has all the momentum, the X Factors, and the talent to get to Atlanta. I think Syracuse will beat Marquette in this one. I like the Orange to advance to the Final Four by five points. This game will be on CBS today starting around 4:30pm ET.

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Syracuse - Indiana Sweet 16 Preview

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!

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NCAA Recap: California - Syracuse

CJ Fair RISE AND FIRE ala Gus Johnson

On Saturday night in the Round of 32, Syracuse battled California. I think battled is a good word, because it was a long, protracted fight where, if you let your guard down, they'd be beating you. That was the kind of game this was. Syracuse gave up the initial basket to the Golden Bears, but then scored the next eleven points before Cal got back on the board. Syracuse never trailed after that initial 2-0 score, and grew the lead into double digits several times, but you never really felt that Syracuse "had this in the bag." Ultimately it was another outstanding effort by the defense that kept Cal at bay, and Syracuse won the game 66-60 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Washington, DC.

  • CJ Fair. I always write about how consistent he is, how he's probably the best player on the team. And he keeps proving me right. A fantastic 18 point effort from CJ on 6-14 shooting, six rebounds, two steals, and a great block into the glass. He again set the tone early, scoring most of his points in the first half.
  • James Southerland also came to play, but it wasn't necessarily his outside presence that made him a great player. He spent a lot of time inside, in and around the paint. A 14-point effort, but only six came from beyond the arc. He also had nine rebounds and four steals.
  • Michael Carter-Williams had a solid game, 12 points but only three assists.
  • Baye Moussa Keita had himself a game. Logging 24 minutes (compared to Rakeem Christmas's 16), Keita scored 11 points, including 7-10 from the line, and chipped in seven rebounds. You still saw some of those "oven mitts" moments, but the good far outweighed the bad here.
  • Brandon Triche had a quiet eight points on a horrid 1-8 shooting, playing all 40 minutes. When he's on, he's on, but when he's off, he's off.
  • Jerami Grant & Trevor Cooney saw limited action and had no big contributions other than giving the others a breather.
  • Syracuse scored 20 points off 17 Cal turnovers.
  • Syracuse only had seven assists.
  • Cal outscored Syracuse 36-34 in the second half.
Short & sweet recap this morning. The "home court advantage" for Cal never really materialized in this game, so credit Syracuse for just going out there and playing ball. But now, Syracuse gets to come back east, regroup and home, and head back down to the Verizon Center in Washington. While their last visit there two weeks ago was quite forgettable, Thursday should be a completely different atmosphere and under completely different circumstances. Syracuse will play the winner of today's game between 1-seed Indiana and 9-seed Temple. 

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NCAA Recap: Montana - Syracuse

This picture says it all.

For the Seth Davis's and other prognosticators out there, this was a hot pick for Montana to upset Syracuse. In our hearts, we knew our Orange just couldn't lose to the Grizzlies, but in our heads we knew that possibility was there: Syracuse had such a poor February/beginning of March, had been so inconsistent, and now had to travel 3000 miles across the country and deal with the possible distractions of more news of NCAA investigations. None of that should have mattered, but you know as well as I do that any one of those things, let alone put it all together, could spell disaster for this Syracuse team. Thankfully, that didn't happen. Syracuse shot out of the gate chasing the rabbit like it hadn't eaten in a week. These players were hungry, determined, and knew they wanted to grab and early need and not look back, other than to see how small Montana had gotten in the rear view mirror. So that's exactly how this game transpired... you know, once it actually started at 10:41pm EDT. A high octane Orange offense combined with a shut-it-down defense reminiscent of a few years ago, led Syracuse to a commanding 81-34 victory over Montana.

  • Hello Brandon Triche! You were the team (and game) leading scorer with 20 points, on an extremely efficient 5-6 shooting, 2-2 from three, 8-10 from the line. Brandon was also active on defense, with four steals.
  • CJ Fair was next with 13 points on 5-8 shooting, 1-1 from three, 2-3 at the line, three rebounds and two assists. Not really impressive numbers, mind you, but CJ was responsible for the first six Syracuse points, and was himself outscoring Montana for much of the first half. CJ's great play early allowed Syracuse to build its lead, which it never relinquished.
  • DaJuan Coleman -- yes, that DaJuan Coleman -- played 15 minutes for 12 points on 4-9 from the floor and six rebounds. Granted, it was essentially garbage time once he got on the floor, and he towered over the Grizzlies, but you still gotta put the ball in the bucket. He did. And it was glorious.
  • Solid effort from Michael Carter-Williams as well. While he onnly scored four points, he dished nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds, while only turning the ball over twice. He was also responsible for three steals on the other end. That's what you want from your starting point guard.
  • James Southerland and Rakeem Christmas each scored nine points, and used their size and length to gain the advantage over Montana, no matter the situation.
  • Trevor Cooney deserves his own bullet here (Thug Cooney). In significant minutes (18) he scored seven points, including a three and a big slam dunk. Who knew he had it in him?
  • Fellow freshman Jerami Grant also saw big minutes (22) and though he only scored five points, was real active on the glass with eight rebounds.
  • Not a big game for Baye Moussa Keita, only a bucket and a couple rebounds in eight minutes.
  • Walk ons. In an NCAA Tournament game. This happened.
  • Your complete list of double-digit scorers for Montana:
  • Your complete list of Grizzlies with more than five points:
  • But in all seriousness, the Montana offense just had no answer for the zone, no answer for the size of Syracuse. The Grizzlies shot a measly 20.4% from the field, were out-rebounded 40-33, and just couldn't get anything positive going.
  • A good shooting team can beat the zone by the three. We all know this. So does everyone else. That explains why Montana had 31 attempts from three. Four of them found the bottom of the net.
  • Syracuse led in some important statistical categories, including points off turnovers (17-4), second chance points (14-5), and points in the paint (38-12). Given the large margin of victory, none of these stats should surprise you.
Prior to the Montana - Syracuse tip, UNLV and California battled it out. To. The. Very. End. 12-seed Cal was victorious over 5-seed UNLV, so the Golden Bears are up next for the Orange, with a preliminary scheduled tip-time of 9:40pm EDT on Saturday. Cal is Berkeley, Berkeley is in the same Bay Area as San Jose, and as I'm sure you'll hear a million times during the broadcast, only about 45 miles up the east side of San Francisco Bay from the venue. It'll be a very pro-Bears crowd. But when a berth to the Sweet Sixteen is on the line, that doesn't matter. You just gotta ball.

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(13) Montana - (4) Syracuse NCAA Round of 64 Preview

Syracuse students agree: You have to at least win one game in the NCAA Tournament.
The Regular Season and the Big East Tournament have concluded. Now there is only the NCAA Tournament. To the victor of six games goes the spoils. Everyone else will hope next year is different. For Syracuse, the month of February was dreadful. Really the first part of March was as well, limping into the Big East Tournament in New York losing four of their last five. But the Big East Tournament renewed some focus as the Syracuse offense came to life thanks to MCW dishing out assists and James Southerland setting the Big East Tournament record for made threes. Now Syracuse travels to San Jose to play Montana out of the Big Sky Conference. Montana saw their best player go down to injury as the season winded down, but that doesn't mean this team isn't dangerous. Led by guard Will Cherry, he will be the one directing traffic for the Grizzlies. Kareem Jamar will be the one tasked to shoot over the Syracuse Zone to put points on the board for Montana. However, while Montana isn't that much smaller than Syracuse, they definitely have not faced athletes like the ones on Syracuse at all in their conference slate. This zone will be frustrating to Montana, and will surely cause some turnovers and fast break opportunities for the Orange. James Southerland is poised to again carry the torch for outside shooting for Syracuse as well. Montana will have a hard time penetrating the zone and failing to do that will not create drive and kick opportunities for the Montana shooters as they should. I think Syracuse will get off to a nice lead at halftime, with Montana closing the gap in the second half, but Syracuse should take this game by double digits against the less athletic Montana team, who has only ever won one tournament game since 1975. I'm picking Syracuse to advance to the Round of 32 by 16. This game is available nationally on TruTV at approximately 9:57pm ET. Check your local listings or, I guess, just ask Brent Axe what channel that would be for you, wherever you are.

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Orange::44 Bracket Extravaganza!

Rest assured, this is of course my one and only bracket of the season.
It's that time again when the staff here at Orange::44 post our brackets for the world to see, and subsequently learn how not to pick a bracket. The above bracket is mine. I apologize for the lack of my usual handwritten and signed brackets but with my lack of a scanner and a recent move this is what you're getting that isn't just a picture of a bracket. Below is John's. And all the way at the bottom is the "coin flip" bracket, for which John literally just flipped a coin. Enjoy that to satisfy your own curiosity. We'll be back later this afternoon with a preview of tonight's game versus Montana. Click on the brackets to enlarge.


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BET Recap: Syracuse - Louisville

Farewell MSG & Big East Tournament. We'll always have the memories...

Gravy. That's all this game was supposed to be, after Friday night's overtime win over Georgetown. But for Syracuse, gravy quickly became caviar after jumping out to a huge lead against the Louisville Cardinals in the Big East Tournament Championship game on Saturday night. Syracuse shot 45% in the first half, including 6-12 from three, and carried a commanding 35-22 lead into the locker room. Louisville, who shot 26% and a mere 2-8 from three, it seemed just didn't have what it would take to mount a comeback, even if they regrouped. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth. The Cardinals remembered how to play basketball, shot 53% in the second half, and totally shut down any attempt at Syracuse running an offense. Outscoring Syracuse 56-26 in the second half, Louisville becomes the Big East Tournament Champions, winning 78-61.

  • CJ Fair was the player of the game for the Orange, and its leading scorer, with 21 points on 7-10 shooting, 4-5 from three, and seven rebounds. He also added a block and two steals in 38 minutes of play.
  • Michael Carter-Williams was an assist short of a double double, with eleven points and nine assists, and also grabbed five rebounds. However, on the negative side, MCW turned over the ball four times, and was a disappointing 2-9 from the free throw line. Many of these free throw attempts were in the second half as the Syracuse offense was stagnant and Louisville was on a ridiculous run. Missing the front end of 1-and-1s just doesn't bode well in making a comeback.
  • Brandon Triche rounds out the double digit scoring for Syracuse, with 10 points on a poor 3-12 shooting. Brandon committed seven turnovers and had gone back to the Brandon we were seeing at the end of the regular season.
  • Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita again shared time, with the lion share going to BMK. Ten points, nine rebounds, and five blocks between the two of them.
  • Due to poor guard play and James Southerland getting in foul trouble, Trevor Cooney and Jerami Grant saw more playing time than they had been used to seeing lately. Unfortunately their 26 combined minutes only translated to one rebound, one steal, and zero points. These two guys were asked to step up when their teammates couldn't play, and just didn't get the job done.
  • A few notable stats: Louisville had the advantage in points off turnovers 32-11; in second chance points 22-14; and in bench points, 41-8.
  • It was easily the worst second-half collapse in recent memory for Syracuse, possibly in the 14 years I've actively been following the team.
If you're like me, you weren't in the best of moods around 11pm Saturday night. But why, since this game was gravy? Syracuse beat Georgetown on Friday, that's what we wanted! Well, you put that behind yourself, and face what you have that day; and Saturday, Syracuse faced Louisville. It's a game that Syracuse could have won. Hell, I picked Syracuse to win by 15! And I was looking like an MF-ing genius at halftime! So we all rode the emotional roller coaster of Syracuse could win this game, to Syracuse should win this game, to WTF IS HAPPENING TO SYRACUSE?!? It's certainly the disappointment after halftime that led to the disappointment on the final result, not necessarily the final result itself.

You can blame it on playing a fourth game in four days (including an overtime the night before), you can blame it on complacency, and you can blame it on the fact that Louisville is just really good. At least we have the satisfaction of knowing that Louisville went on to be the #1 overall seed in this year's NCAA bracket. They're certainly a force to be reckoned with, whoever faces them.

And so we say goodbye to the Big East, goodbye to arguably the best annual conference tournament basketball ever sees, goodbye to postseason games in Madison Square Garden, and goodbye to a wonderful era in the annals of Syracuse Basketball history. We all have wonderful Big East memories, and will look forward to making many great, new memories in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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Johns Hopkins - Syracuse Lacrosse Recap

A decent crowd of 6292 took a break from basketball to take in lacrosse.

I've really hit a couple of home runs when it comes to attending Syracuse lacrosse games this season. Back on March 1 I had the pleasure to watch Syracuse run all over a really good Virginia team. Saturday, Syracuse faced #4 Johns Hopkins in what would become a signature win for the Orange. It was a fast and furious first quarter for Syracuse, gaining a 6-1 lead. The Blue Jays woke up in the second quarter to only be down 8-6 at the half. However, Syracuse dominated the rest of the game and won by a final of 13-8.

Hopkins drew first blood with a man-up goal at the 11:50 mark. From there, Syracuse turned it on. Scores came from Luke Cometti, two by Henry Schoonmaker, Hakeem Lecky, Scott Loy, and Derek Maltz. It was exciting to watch, especially because it seemed Hopkins just had no answer for it. The fast start foreshadowed the fast start the basketball team had later Saturday against Louisville, but lacrosse had a much better result.

The second quarter saw the Blue Jays make a comeback, with five goals by three players (Wells Stanwick with three). Scoring really slowed down in the second half, only seeing seven goals compared to the first half's 14. That certainly helped Syracuse, as the defense stepped up and a change in the net from Bobby Wardwell to Dominic Lamolinara secured the victory. Lamolinara had five saves in the second, to Wardwell's three in the first.

This game wasn't without its Syracuse faults, though. The Orange committed seven penalties, which led to Hopkins going 3-6 on EMOs. The last penalty came as time expired, so Hopkins won't reap those benefits. Hopkins committed four penalties, but each time was able to shut down the Syracuse EMO unit and hold them scoreless. Hop held a slight advantage on face-offs at 14-10, but it was nice to see Chris Daddio out there making things difficult for Hop at the X.

With the new polls out, Syracuse has moved up nicely, to #4 in both the Coaches Poll and the Inside Lacrosse poll. The real deal Orange now move on to play at Providence on Tuesday night, where it appears there is only local-Syracuse radio coverage with no TV coverage. The biggest thing to look for, other than "can Syracuse maintain its high level of play" is the situation in the goal. Lamolinara made a great case for some more time, but does Wardwell lose his starting job?

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Syracuse - Louisville BET Championship Preview

Syracuse students agree: we need to leave the Big East Conference with a championship!

When I was pouting at Clyde's last week after seeing Syracuse only put up 39 points against Georgetown, if you had told me Syracuse would be playing in the Big East Tournament championship game tonight, I would have told you you were crazy. But the Orange team we've seen this week is a lot different than that mess we saw in DC. So the stage is set for tonight: Louisville won its semifinal game against the Notre Dame Highlighters Fighting Irish, so we essentially get an ACC title game. As you'll recall, Syracuse went to Louisville earlier this season when the Cardinals were the country's #1 squad, and beat them. But two weeks ago, Louisville visited the Carrier Dome and kicked us while we were down. So this is the rubber match, fittingly on a neutral court. Or, as neutral as Madison Square Garden can be. It'll be a very pro-Syracuse crowd, but I imagine fans of other Big East schools who weren't smart enough to sell their tickets on the street for hundreds of dollars will probably cheer against Syracuse, just because. As for what to expect, the answer is a lot of zone. Rick Pitino learned from the best, but he's playing against the best tonight. The Cardinals zone is long, it's active, and it's physical. If Syracuse can find a good balance between shooting well and penetrating, Syracuse wins. If Syracuse can't shoot, Syracuse loses. For as good as the Syracuse defense can be, you know Louisville is going to put up points. They'll have to limit their mistakes, especially the costly turnovers like the one in the Yum Center than cost them a victory against the Orange. I got Brian's pick last night: he likes Syracuse in this one. I do too, and bear in mind I'm stone cold sober as I type this: Syracuse wins the final Big East game ever by 15 points. 15! You can watch all the action live at 8:30pm EDT on ESPN, ESPN3, or the WatchESPN app with the lovely banter of Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas, and Bill Raftery.

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BET Recap: Syracuse - Georgetown

We all did this at some point

Syracuse beat Georgetown (in overtime)!! It really happened! We all watched it, so I'm not even going to recap it. If you're a geek like me and like stats, check out the official box score here.

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Syracuse - Georgetown BET Preview

Syracuse students agree: Georgetown wants to just throw us a bone.

While not rare, it's certainly not a common occurrence to play an opponent three times in a season. But in the Big East Swan Song, it just had to be that Syracuse would see Georgetown thrice. The first of the Big East Tournament semifinals Friday night will feature the Orange versus the Hoyas. With Georgetown already having two victories over Syracuse this season, a look at this game brings up a number of possible topics, the following of which I have rejected:

  • Third time's a charm
  • It's difficult to beat a team three times in a season
  • Beware the Ides of March
  • This is basically a home game for Syracuse
I could go on, but we try to keep within a word limit on these previews. At any rate, this is an important game for both teams. If Georgetown wins, they advance to the title game and could play themselves into a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Plus, they'd always have those Big East bragging rights to say they beat Syracuse three times to send them out to the ACC. For Syracuse, a win saves some face from those two prior losses, and rejuvenates a team and a fan base that up until this week was trying to dig out of the trenches with no success. It would be a resume win for the Orange, one that would likely save it from the dreaded 5-12 game in the NCAAs. In the prior two contests, Syracuse shot poorly: 34% in the game at the Carrier Dome, 31.9% at the Verizon Center. However, in the two games in the BET, Syracuse is shooting 51.2% and 46.8%. Sure, they weren't against a Georgetown defense, but it's fair to say that with Southerland and Triche stepping up, and Fair being Fair, that Syracuse is hitting its stride at the right time. The Hoyas defense against this Syracuse team won't be quite as dominant as in the prior two games. The key here is whether the Orange of BET week shows up, or the Orange of the last few weeks. In what some may see as a shocker, I'm going with Syracuse by six in two overtimes. This game can be seen on ESPN, ESPN3, the WatchESPN app, or virtually any watering hole with glass, a vacuum tube, and rabbit ears, live and in stunning high definition at 7:00pm EDT. You won't want to miss it!

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BET Recap: Syracuse - Pittsburgh

Jimmy didn't like the officiating. Nobody liked the officiating.

Before Syracuse and Pittsburgh tipped off in Thursday's second quarterfinal, Georgetown beat Cincinnati. And so, it was decided: the winner of Syracuse/Pitt would face the Hoyas in Friday night's semifinal. With that backdrop, Thursday's game took on more meaning. Well, probably just for us fans; the team knew they had a big job to do first: Beat Pitt. What Syracuse lacked in the first half against Seton Hall (i.e. a lead), it had no problem securing and maintaining against Pitt. Led by, guess who, James Southerland, the Orange came out swinging and grew a 13-point lead at halftime, 40-27. Ball movement was good, shots were falling, and the defense was active and created scoring opportunities for the Syracuse offense. The second half wasn't quite so friendly; the Panthers started hitting their shots, attacking the zone, and crashing the boards. Meanwhile the Syracuse offense was slow out of the gate in the second half. The 13-point lead many times became ten, or seven, or five. But each time, Syracuse was able to hit a clutch three or string together a couple scores to keep the Panthers at bay. Though it got real dicey at the end, Syracuse was aided by a clutch steal by Michael Carter-Williams and a bunch of points from him, to earn a win over the Panthers 62-59.

  • James Southerland. He's a senior and he's giving it everything he's got out there in New York. Another amazing scoring performance to follow yesterday's gem, James scored 20 on 7-10 shooting, including a perfect 6-6 on threes. Some sort of BET record for two games. Add to that six rebounds, two steals, and an assist, and James is really earning his starting position and 36 minutes to go along with it.
  • CJ Fair had another CJ Fair game. As expected, I could pretty much copy & paste my comments from most previous recaps on him, but here's his official line: 5-16 shooting for 13 points, including three threes, seven rebounds, a couple blocks and a couple assists.
  • Brandon Triche had another pretty solid offensive game, limiting his shots to the more makeable ones: 5-11 for 12 points, with two threes made.
  • MCW was a bit of a non-issue in the points category until the final stretch, when he basically single-handedly kept Syracuse in the lead. His final line was 11 points on only 2-4 shooting, but 6-8 from the line. Seven assists, six rebounds, and three steals were great, but his six turnovers were not so great. They made you worry early on, but luckily Syracuse was able to not let the TOs hurt them too much.
  • Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita again split time as the big man, with the clock today favoring Keita. Christmas fouled out. The two combined for four points and two rebounds. Essentially a non-factor at both ends of the court. It's clear Boeheim must be of the opinion that DaJuan Coleman would be a liability out there at this point.
  • A few key statistical categories won by Syracuse: field goal percentage, 46-37; 3-point percentage 63-31; assists 14-11.
  • Oddly enough, Syracuse was out-rebounded by Pitt 40-28, but the disparity was on the offensive boards, where Pitt held the advantage 20-8.
  • The officials were horrible, both ways. Neither team had an advantage because of it, but it's aggravating as a college basketball fan to see such experienced officials flat out miss or get wrong so many calls.
Bring on Georgetown. That's what this win earns Syracuse: a berth in the Big East Tournament semifinals against top-ranked Georgetown. I'll save all my comments for the preview, but suffice to say Syracuse fans shouldn't let emotion about the Hoyas get in the way. Too much, anyway. And for Pitt? See you on the other side, brothers! (ACC).

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Syracuse - Pittsburgh BET Preview

Syracuse students agree: playing Pitt on a neutral court is way better than at the Pete.

With its win in the Second Round of the Big East Tournament over Seton Hall, Syracuse earned a right to move onto the quarterfinals to play Pittsburgh. The Panthers, who with the #4 seed get the double bye to Thursday, have been off since Saturday. They carry a four-game winning streak into this game, along with the confidence of already having beaten Syracuse once this season. But that was a home game at the Peterson Events Center back on February 2. This will not be another Groundhog's Day -- especially because all of us in the Northeast know how dead ass wrong that groundhog was this year. Pitt's player to watch is Tray Woodall, who leads the team with 11.7 points per game and 5.3 assists per game and pretty much owned Syracuse earlier this season. In meaningless historical stats, Pitt has won 14 of the last 18 games against Syracuse, while Pitt has lost the last three times they have had the double bye in the Big East Tournament. For Syracuse, James Southerland needs to keep the hot hand, with the help from CJ Fair and a rejuvenated Brandon Triche. A Syracuse team that can score is a Syracuse team that can win. I actually see this as one of the most evenly matched games of Championship Week, and it'll come down to who has the ability to make the bigger plays down the stretch. The winner of this game earns a spot in the semifinals against the winner of Thursday's noon game between Georgetown and Cincinnati. Pitt-Syracuse follows that, in the neighborhood of 2:30pm on ESPN, ESPN3, and the WatchESPN app if it's not being crappy again. In a tight one that could potentially go into overtime, Syracuse wins by four points.

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BET Recap: Seton Hall - Syracuse

James found his shot!
You know those horrible stats in the box score we've been talking about lately? Forget about them. Jim Boeheim's squad decided it was going to play the Syracuse basketball we've been wanting to see for a while: the type we had grown accustomed to the past few seasons, and saw for much of this season. You know, that great zone defense, good ball movement on offense, knocking down shots and driving the ball inside. While Seton Hall grabbed an early lead with a couple three-pointers, it at first appeared we would see the same Syracuse team that lost to Marquette, Lousiville, and twice to Georgetown in the last three weeks. Mistakes on both ends of the floor, and not much of an offensive game. That is, except for James Southerland. He found his shot, and while Syracuse never led in the first half, he certainly kept them in it and helped the Orange to a 34-34 tie at halftime. In the second half, it truly became a team effort and Syracuse was able to really play the way we've been wanting them to play. They dominated that second half and eventually built a lead the Pirates were unable to overcome. Syracuse wins 75-63.

  • Player of the Game honors go to, of course, James Southerland. James was 7-11 (including 6-9 from three) for 20 points, starting the game and playing all 40 minutes. As noted above, he was the constant scoring threat for Syracuse, and just played a real smart game.
  • Welcome back, Brandon Triche! He had several great looks in this game, but unlike recent memory, was actually able to hit those shots. Brandon was 6-9 for 17 points, five assists, and a couple of steals.
  • CJ Fair continued his consistency. 16 points on 6-10 shooting, and eight rebounds.
  • Michael Carter-Williams tied a Big East Tourney record with 14 assists; along with six points and five rebounds, that was a solid effort. When the three guys listed above are making their shots the way they did today, I don't mind that MCW only had six points; he had a hand in 14 baskets, and that's just fantastic. And he only turned the ball over once!
  • Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita equally shared time at the five, and combined for 14 points and eight rebounds. That's decent production there in a rotation, and that will be key for Syracuse to play well as tournaments move on.
  • There weren't many substitutions on Boeheim's part, mainly because what was on the floor was working.
  • Overall Syracuse shot 27-48 (56.3%), 9-15 (60%) from three, 29 rebounds and 21 assists.
  • Seton Hall really struggled on the boards, particularly on their end, only grabbing four offensive rebounds (18 overall).
  • The Pirate bench scored zero points. But to be fair, there were only 18 total bench minutes.
  • Aaron Cosby was the Seton Hall (and game) leading scorer with 22.
  • While not stuck in Court, I was in my office flipping between this game and the Sistine Chapel camera. Syracuse played much better once we had a new pope. Coincidence?
  • Yeah, probably.
Yeah, it was Seton Hall, but this was a great win for Syracuse. This was an example of how Syracuse could snap out of its slump, shoot the ball well, and just play a great game. Falling into a first half hole like they did today won't bode well against better opponents, but this should be a great confidence builder overall for the Orange. Up next is a date with our ACC-bound brethren Pittsburgh. Check back here tomorrow morning for the Orange::44 preview on that one.

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Seton Hall - Syracuse BET Preview

Syracuse Students Agree: one last run through the Big East Tournament would really turn things around

The Big East, as everyone knows it, will essentially cease to exist after the title game on Saturday night. Yeah, spring sports are still going, but Big East means basketball. And Big East basketball is defined by its annual tournament in Madison Square Garden. Today at "2:00pm" (really 2:20 or 2:30 depending on the end time of the noon game) #5 seed Syracuse will battle #13 seed Seton Hall. For anyone who watched Seton Hall beat South Florida in overtime last night in the BET opening round, you know Seton Hall did not look good. This should be a welcomed sight for Syracuse fans, as we know our beloved Orange hasn't really looked good in quite some time. Last night, the Pirates shot 40.9% from the field, and 22.2% from three. The key for Syracuse (other than solving its own offensive woes) will be to contain Pirate center Eugene Teague. Especially down the stretch last night, Teague grabbed some key rebounds to allow Seton Hall to even the score and eventually win in the extra period. Teague had a double double with 14 points and ten rebounds. If Seton Hall's poor outside shooting continues against the strong Syracuse zone, the Pirates should have a hard time scoring points. This could be another low scoring, painful game to watch, if Syracuse can't snap out of its funk. But I think they can. Everything is different in New York come championship week, and Jim Boeheim won't let this team roll over when it counts like this. Brian picks Syracuse to win by 13, while I'll go with a more conservative nine point win. The winner faces #4 seed Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon. Today's game can be seen on ESPN, ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app, so whether you're at work or supposed to be at work, there should be a way for you to watch. Mute's probably the way to go anyway, what with Len Elmore & Mike Patrick on the call.

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Depressing Mega-Recap

We hated being there as much as you hated how Syracuse has been playing

Syracuse has sputtered the second half of its final Big East season. Offensive woes. That's the bottom line. So you can imagine why we haven't been quick or excited to do game recaps around here. But, for the sake of posterity, I'll share a few words about each of the final three regular season games here on the cusp of Syracuse's final run through the Big East Tournament.

Louisville
Exactly a week after the big record-setting game in the Dome against Georgetown, the Louisville Cardinals came in for another important late-season game. The Orange was looking for a season sweep of Louisville, while the Cardinals wanted to steal a game. While not quite as bad as the Orange offensive effort from the week before, Syracuse still had a hard time scoring in this one. The victory goes to Louisville, 58-53.

  • The Syracuse offense was three players: CJ Fair (19), James Southerland (13), and Michael Carter-Williams (11).
  • Syracuse shot 20-56 (35.7%) from the field, and 5-13 (38.5%) from three.
  • Brandon Triche had another Brandon Triche game, 2-11 including 0-3 from three.
  • Syracuse turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 16 Louisville points.
  • To be fair, Louisville didn't shoot or play any better than Syracuse. This was actually a gritty, back and forth game for much of the time. Unfortuately Louisville grabbed the lead near the end and kept it just out of reach for Syracuse.
DePaul
The final Big East game in the Carrier Dome, and we get DePaul? Not a thrilling match-up, for sure, but the way things have been going for Syracuse, it was nice to see this caliber opponent round out the home schedule. Not a guaranteed win, of course. And that was evident at the start of the game, as Syracuse was slow out of the gate. Slow to the point where we started thinking "Oh know, could this really be happening?" But the Orange picked things up, brought a lead into halftime, and never looked back. Syracuse wins its regular season home finale 78-57.
  • As the final score indicates, the Orange offense woke up a bit in this one, compared to recent games. Four Orangemen were in double-digit scoring: James Southerland (22), CJ Fair (16), Brandon Triche (15), and Michael Carter-Williams (10).
  • But to say the offense was better is a little misleading; Syracuse still only shot 26-67 (38.8%), and an abysmal 2-18 (11.1%) from three. Credit the 22 offensive rebounds leading to 21 Syracuse second chance points to really reflect how Syracuse was able to get 78 points on the board.
  • Syracuse also dominated in the paint, 40-26.
  • Bottom line is, DePaul just isn't very good.
  • James Southerland had a double double and a start on Senior Night. So, good for him.
Georgetown
This was possibly one of the most anticipated games of the season. Possibly the last game between two long-time rivals as Big East members (unless they meet again in the Big East Tournament); final game of the regular season; ESPN's College Gameday. This game looked really good when the schedule was released. But as Syracuse's season went on and fell into this sinkhole (see what I did there with the recent news reference?), this game started looking scary. The Hoyas have been playing at the top of their game, and with a win over Syracuse would earn the Big East regular season title. And so, on such a big stage where Syracuse just had to step up, they didn't. Georgetown won 61-39.
  • Neither team got off to a great start in this one. Offense was pretty slow-going and hard to find. At 11-11 with 10:58 to go in the first half, that's just as close as Syracuse would ever come in this one. Georgetown scored at 9:49 to make it 14-11 and never relinquished the lead.
  • Even so, Syracuse kept scratching back throughout the first half. The Hoyas might go on a bit of a run, but Syracuse would find itself right back in the game. It was just never enough.
  • Eventually, in the second half, Georgetown built such a lead in the game that you knew there just wasn't enough time left for Syracuse to come back, especially with the way they had been playing.
  • Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points to lead the Orange in scoring, which is nearly half of the 39 points Syracuse managed to score. No other Syracuse players had double digit scores.
  • Syracuse only made 15 shots on 41 attempts (31.9%) and went a horribly cold 1-11 (9.1%) from three. Meanwhile, Georgetown shot 42%, 40.9% from three, knocking down nine threes.
  • Those threes by Georgetown seemed to come at times when Syracuse was trying to crawl back into the game or gain momentum. So really, it was like nine daggers.
  • Syracuse did a number on Otto Porter this time around, especially in the first half, but it was at the expense of players like Markel Starks, who hit five of the nine threes.
  • Syracuse only had three second-chance points.
  • Showing zone and man defenses, the Hoya effort was just as effective -- if not more so --- than they were in the Carrier Dome a couple weeks ago. The best stat to show this (besides the 39 points allowed): Syracuse had one four assists. Four.
  • It also didn't help that Syracuse coughed up the ball 14 times.
And so, Syracuse ends the regular season with an overall record of 23-8, a Big East record of 11-7, and a five seed in the Big East Tournament. Syracuse will face the winner of the BET's opening round game between South Florida and Seton Hall. At this point, the Orange is playing for NCAA Tournament seeding, as well as getting in some good game experience before the do-or-die games. Clearly, shooting needs to improve. I'm not sure how that gets better now at this point in the season, but if anyone can squeeze talent out of a player, it's Jim Boeheim. So sit back, enjoy the final Big East Tournament (as we know it or care to know it), and see what Syracuse can put together. Keep it here for ongoing and more up-to-date BET coverage. I promise, we'll be on top of it!

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Syracuse - Georgetown Preview

Syracuse students agree: Your mother will always be a Hoya.
Syracuse played terrible the last four minutes of the last game a couple of weeks ago against Georgetown. In terms of offense that is. Syracuse did just enough to be able to win the game, limiting the Hoyas to 57 points. But Otto Porter clearly was just having A DAY. A career high 33 points while no one else was in double digit scoring. Nate Lubick still is terrible by the way. Syracuse has the ability to win this game. You saw Villanova take them down. Syracuse could have beaten them at home but Otto Porter couldn't miss in that one and Syracuse couldn't make a basket. If Syracuse manages to find Otto Porter and play with a little more intensity on both ends of the floor Syracuse can win this game. If Syracuse goes into DC and just chucks a bunch of threes well they will be blown out of the building. College Gameday is in DC for this rare nooner / double dip to show proper respect to the rivalry that built the Big East. It's only fitting it's the last game on the schedule for both of these teams. The stakes are higher for Georgetown as if they win they basically win the league. If they lose, they probably don't. Syracuse, meanwhile will probably be the 5 or 6 seed win or lose. While Georgetown is playing for more, no player will be thinking about any of that. If Syracuse shows up, gets off the bus, and plays with focus and intensity they will win. If not, the same thing that happened in the Dome will happen again. This is the one game this season where I really have no clue what will happen. Total coin flip. The odds say that the home team will win this one and Syracuse leaves sad.  So I'll go with that and be ecstatic when I'm wrong because it's OK to be wrong when your team earns the upset win on the road over your rival for the last time in conference play. So for that reason, I'm picking Georgetown by five. This game is on ESPN nationally televised at noon. One mega recap of L'ville/DePaul/Georgetown will be out early next week to prime you for the BET. The last great BET. And to the folks of Georgetown... you still suck!

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DePaul - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Above all else, you must beat DePaul at home.
I'm typically not one to check the betting lines (for entertainment purposes only) but Syracuse opened as a 20 point favorite. Sounds about right. DePaul is again in last place in the league heading into this league game. Not a great 3 point shooting team, DePaul will rely on star Cleveland Melvin (16.5ppg) to do some damage in the lane. He is talented and has burned Syracuse before (despite not earning the win for the Blue Demons). Really, Syracuse should win if Brandon Triche even gets five points. His shooting has been dreadful of late, but managing even a couple of baskets would help the cause. James Southerland has been itching to go off and this game might provide some big shots in transition again for him. The game plan against  DePaul should be simple. Just go out there and take good shots and make good passes and it will work itself out. The zone should be tighter tonight to stop Melvin and unless DePaul manages to make a few shots from outside they will not have any success tonight. DePaul is not a team that can dominate rebounding so Syracuse just needs to put in a solid effort and they will walk away victorious on Senior Day. Syracuse over DePaul for the last time by 18. This game is available locally on TWCS / SNY / and on ESPN 3 if it's not on your television at 6:00pm tonight.

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Virginia - Syracuse Lacrosse Recap

JoJo shows why he earned #22

I had the pleasure of taking in the Virginia-Syracuse lacrosse game in the Carrier Dome on Friday night. I hadn't been in the Dome for lacrosse since 2011, so it was nice to get back into the swing of things. And what a better game to see than longtime rivals Virginia and Syracuse? While it's no secret that Syracuse lacrosse is "down" this year, especially after losing that first game against Albany, you always carry a little bit of hope with you that Syracuse could find a way to win.

And I admit it: I wasn't giving Syracuse a chance in Hell to beat Virginia on Friday night. Couple that pregame sentiment with a couple costly early game penalties against Syracuse that resulted in man-up goals for Virginia, and the 2-0 deficit may as well have been 200-0. But then, much to my delight, Syracuse settled in and rattled off four goals in the first, and ended the quarter with a 4-3 lead.

The second quarter sped by, but Syracuse surrendered three goals to Virginia without scoring themselves to trail 6-4 at the half. At that point, you really didn't know where this game was going; it was a relatively low-scoring event for these two teams, with a lot of running back and forth down the field with turnovers and good goal play. It was mostly a fast-paced game, save for a curious stall warning on Syracuse at one point.

In the third quarter, Syracuse did to Virginia what Virginia did to Syracuse in the second: rattling off three goals while holding the opponent scoreless. The Orange had all the momentum in the third quarter, and I had a Panda Paws waffle cone, so all was good in the world.

And so, Syracuse went into the fourth quarter with a 1-goal lead, up 7-6. With the way the momentum had swung, and the excitement of the crowd, I think we all began to think that Syracuse not only could win this game, but they would. A couple of Virginia goals and a Syracuse goal knotted things at 8-8, and the last several minutes of regulation proceeded as if a national championship was on the line. Truly, it had that kind of atmosphere. Both teams had ample opportunities to cash in on possessions and put the ball in the goal, but neither could get the job done. Off to Overtime!

I'm pretty sure the entire crowd of 5,388 was standing the entire overtime period. Once Syracuse controlled possession, Coach Desko called timeout to draw up a play. We watched as it transpired, and Kevin Rice caught the feed from Dylan Donahue for the clinching goal -- #OrangeGoal! The Syracuse players mobbed each other on the field, as if they had just won the national championship. Even the players felt the atmosphere!

It all made for one of the most exciting lacrosse games I had seen in a while. Which, for me, was a great way to get back into watching lacrosse in person again.

For the Orange, only three of the team's nine goals were assisted. In all, eight different players scored goals for Syracuse, with only JoJo Morasco with two. Bobby Wardwell spent the entire game in the net for Syracuse, with nine saves and eight goals allowed. This game was certainly not without flaws for Syracuse. Of note, they really struggled on face-offs, losing that battle 16-5. The Orange also had trouble picking up ground balls, with Virginia having that edge 33-23. While this game did not see many penalties (seven total), it was Virginia who capitalized on the man-up opportunities (2-4) while Syracuse wasted their chances (0-3).

A win like this can, and should, give a team like Syracuse some serious confidence and momentum to go out there and play at a high level. This win improves Syracuse to 2-1 on the year, with a lot of lacrosse still to be played. Don't write off the Orange just yet; they're just getting started!

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Louisville - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We beat them on the road so we need to win at home.
Louisville was #1 in the nation when Syracuse went down to Kentucky and beat the Cards by two points on their own court. Since then they had a little bit of a skid. Then again, so has Syracuse. However, I think we've learned a few things since that Louisville game. With Syracuse, CJ Fair will be solid and the team rises and falls with Brandon Triche. If he is having a poor shooting day, Syracuse has a rough go on offense. If Triche is hitting shots, then Syracuse has a much higher likelihood of the team being successful. With Louisville, Russ Smith will be solid on the scoring end. The question is will someone else step up to help him with the scoring? Smith (18.4ppg) was easily considered in the conversation for Big East POY before Otto Porter has clearly established himself as the frontrunner. He will score, as he did against Syracuse in the last game. What Syracuse did extremely well in that game is limit Gorgui Dieng (as Syracuse always has) and keep Chane Behanan to single digit scoring. The Syracuse defense worked hard and, as we all know, the defense is not losing games for this year's team. Syracuse basically stole the game down in KY by a couple timely steals and a dunk. Syracuse will again have a close game with Louisville. James Southerland is back and will be able to shoot some 3s from outside, which Syracuse missed in the last game. If this game was again at Louisville I'd pick the Cardinals again, but this is in the Carrier Dome. James Southerland is back and you have to assume that Triche will again find success against Louisville. The Louisville press defense really wasn't effective in stopping the Orange. If MCW limits turnovers Syracuse should get a nice lead and hold it, even if Louisville makes a run to close out the game. Syracuse also outrebounded Louisville so if they do that again and keep Louisville off the offensive glass, this should be another nice Syracuse win. I'm picking the Orange by 12. This game will be available nationally on CBS at 12:00pm ET.

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