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Syracuse students agree: Beating Arizona State would be a great bonus for the season.
The debate is over. Syracuse is in. Resumes mattered. And now Syracuse plays in the First Four against Arizona State in Dayton. Syracuse is coming off one of their longest stretches of the season where they didn't have a game, so the team that plays three players about 40 minutes every game should be well rested. That's good, because this is the NCAA Tournament and both teams will be hungry to survive and advance. At one point, Arizona State was highly ranked, coming off upset wins of now #1 Seeds Xavier and Kansas. But then they faltered, including against a team that employs a very similar defense in Washington. Washington was able to win a close game with the 2-3, holding Arizona State to just 64 points, well below their 83.5ppg average. Meanwhile, Syracuse's zone should be better with a taller big man in the middle in Chukwu. That being said, the NCAA Tournament is always a risky endeavor when fouls are precious considering that these refs aren't going to be from the ACC in all likelihood, and will generally call more fouls than you would see in a regular season game. However, Syracuse's only real task is to stop Tra Holder, the man named after a cafeteria supply. He leads the team in scoring and has the ability to go off. And while this ASU team is the kind of team that if Syracuse was playing them during the regular season, they may stop Holder and a random teammate could go off, that situation isn't as likely to occur under the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament on their boring, neutral court. Look for Syracuse to prevent Holder from scoring early, forcing turnovers, and getting Syracuse off to a good start. I think this game will be similar to the Wake Forest ACC Tournament game, where Syracuse gets up, and the lead will expand and shrink on the various offensive ASU runs, with Syracuse winning by a fair margin to advance to Round 1. I think Battle will obviously contribute greatly in his first NCAA Tournament game, but also Howard will be sharp despite battling strep throat earlier this week. I'm taking the Orange over the Sun Devils by eight. This game is available nationally on TruTV at approximately 9:10pm, and on the March Madness app. Both John and I will be watching. What else would we be doing? If you missed our brackets, check them out here. GO ORANGE!

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