As both a Syracuse and Michigan alum, what the hell were the odds of ever being in this situation?
Grew up in suburban Detroit going to Michigan games, grew up a Syracuse fan (no idea where I picked it up) and always wanted to go to SU where I did and graduated in 2003, and then returned back to MI to get my graduate degree at UofM.
I've been a member of the MGoBlog community for years now, and while I love Michigan, for this one game I have to side with my undergrad school so LET'S GO ORANGE!
Given I may have watched more of both of these teams than anyone, figured I'd give a few thoughts on the game (through Orange colored glasses perhaps).
I'm amazed that both of these teams have made it this far. After the Georgetown game in DC three weeks ago many SU fans would have thought it more likely to get bounced in the first round than this. Even as a Michigan fan I've thought UofM was overrated and a bit soft inside relying on 3-point shooting that could be hot or cold depending on the day. McGary has been huge in this respect, and Burke has been lights-out.
Offensively everyone on the floor for SU can score, though at times this year it's been like pulling teeth as in the Big East, SU is more of a finesse team compared to the clutch and grab by teams like G'town and Pitt which gives us fits. These teams can't get away with the same physical play in the tourney which is a huge reason they get bounced out every year. If the game turns into a shootout then SU will go as Triche and Southerland go shooting from the outside. The Syracuse team from the past two weeks is a much better gauge than anything you can gather from the regular season.
On defense, Michigan will do better than Indiana if only by virtue of having taller guards. Even though Beilein has seen the 2-3 from his time at WVU, this is definitely not a traditional SU 2-3 which has had the most significant weakness of just shooting over it. This is an expanded zone that is going to contest every 3 on the floor. The size by all 5 players on the floor is what has enabled SU to hold opponents to something like 15% 3-pt shooting for the first four games. There will be some room attacking the free-throw line area of the zone, but SU'd shot blocking has been pretty effective so far, especially with Zeller and Gardner.
I won't even try to make a prediction, I think anything could happen. Could be close either way, could be a blowout either way. I have no clue. I'm just happy that no matter the result on Saturday that one of my teams will be playing for a National Championship on Monday.
Oh, and this guy may make an appearance.