DEATH FROM ABOVE! SYRACUSE!

Submitted by Brian on April 3rd, 2013 at 11:58 AM

ottoTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan vs Syracuse
WHERE Georgia Dome
Atlanta, Georgia
WHEN 8:50 PM Eastern, Saturday
LINE Michigan -1
TV CBS

THE TEMPO-FREE

Four factors. Ranks are in parentheses and out of 347.

eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 49.1 (139) 18.9 (119) 39.0 (8) 37.6 (136)
Defense 42.5 (4) 23.6(19) 34.3 (278) 35.4 (156)

Syracuse is mediocre at everything on offense save rebounding. They crush the boards in large part because they are huge, starting three guys in the 6'8"-6'9" range and bringing up to three more off the bench depending on the health of freshman DaJuan Coleman. Their guards are 6'4", minimum; point guard Michael Carter-Williams is 6'6".

The size plays into their defensive strengths. Despite not having a single dominant shotblocker like Jeff Withey, Syracuse is #1 in block percentage. Their zone confounds opponents into shooting a ton of bad threes: 40% of opponent shots are from behind the line. That's in the bottom 20 nationally. Normally that's a bad thing, but not when opponents are shooting 28% on them. Syracuse induces bad threes QED: in their Elite Eight matchup against Marquette they got a team that was 304th in threes launched because they were 323rd in making them. Almost half of Marquettes shots were threes; they made 3 of 25. They did not clear 40 points.

For what it's worth, Pomeroy ran the numbers and suggests that even in the random realm of three-point shooting Syracuse's 2-3 zone has a real, negative impact on opponents, but one that may be masked by Syracuse's typically… er… unchallenging nonconference schedule and the Big East's usual shooter deficit. The Orangemen were just 8th (of 16) in defensive 3P% in Big East play.

The zone's drawback is the usual: rebounding. Despite running out a fee-fi-fo-fum lineup, the Orangemen allow opponents to rebound more than a third of their misses.

THE THEM

Syracuse's offense starts with their guards. Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche are the highest-usage players on the team, though 6'8" wing James Southerland gets off more shots. Neither guard is particularly efficient, largely because of shooting issues. Collectively they've launched 280 threes that they hit at 29%. Both also have TO rates over 20.

yogi-ferrell-michael-carter-williams

MCW makes opponent point guards go bug-eyed at the size matchup

PG #1 Michael Carter-Williams makes up for those deficiencies with a massive assist rate (he assists on 41% of Syracuse makes), a lot of free throws, and a steal rate that's near the top ten. He's just not a shooter, though: on the 70% of his shots that aren't at the rim he hits under 30%. If you want a comparable, Darius Morris is a close one. Both are huge, poor-shooting point guards who use their length to exploit passing angles smaller guards can't.

Defensively, Carter-Williams is a load. He doesn't have to D-up opposing point guards one-on-one too often because of the zone, so whatever deficiency in quickness his size provides is covered. Meanwhile, that length makes it difficult for guard-sized guards to shoot over him. He affects passing angles much like a huge team would disrupt passing lanes in the 1-3-1. You probably know this, but six-foot-ish Indiana guards Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls combined for zero points in the Hoosiers's S16 loss to the Orange.

Brandon Triche is a couple inches shorter than Carter-Williams and a vaguely better shooter. He's still 35% on two point jumpers and 29% on threes. Triche is the only Syracuse player other than MCW who racks up an appreciable number of assists. Wing CJ Fair has a fair number of unassisted baskets, but other than that basically all of Syracuse's shots are generated by their starting guards.

Triche may or may not be affected with a sore back on Saturday. The "recurring, nagging" injury has been bothering him since February and may have something to do with his weak shooting numbers.

Speaking of CJ Fair, he is much more of a post-oriented offensive player than his fellow 6'8" wing-type guy. Despite hitting 48% from three he's only taken 60 attempts from that distance all year, and that's not a playing time thing: guy is on the court 35 minutes a game. He takes a huge number of twos, which he converts at 47%. Unusually for… well, anyone, a majority of his shots are two point jumpers. He's pretty good on them, and unusually crappy at the rim. Michigan should be able to check him with GRIII without getting pounded inside.

southerlandOnce-suspended James Southerland is Syracuse's most efficient offensive player by some distance. He's their only serious three-point threat, hitting 40% on over 200 attempts. He's also the only Orangeman other than the centers to crack 50% on attempted twos.

His hoop-math profile is pretty weird. Only 13% of his shots are at the rim—this is tiny, Spike Albrecht is at  27%—but they appear to be 90% dunks because he hits 90% of them. His jumpers are frequent and meh. Transition? Guys closing out and getting Game Blouses dunks on their face? I don't know man. Syracuse guys say he "can't dribble and his bball IQ isn't the highest," so it appears that the only time Southerland gets to the rim is in transition or when provided an alley oop or whatever from one of the guards.

The recipe here is for hrrrd closeouts. If the guy wants to step inside the three point line and put up a jumper, Michigan will take that.

Syracuse splits their five spot about down the middle between Rakeem Christmas, a 6'9" leaper with a huge wingspan, and Baye Keita, a  6'10" leaper with a huge wingspan. Both block a ton of shots and rebound decently. Christmas is an elite shotblocker; Keita very good. Keita is a very good offensive rebounder; Christmas is okay. Both have an offensive game almost entirely restricted to putbacks and here-is-a-free-dunk-from-your-point-guard. Christmas will put up a jumper slightly more than once a game, Keita even more rarely than that. They shoot decently when they get something off, which is not often. Both are 60% FT shooters.

I suggest boxing Christmas out.

Syracuse brings two guys off the bench for their other four spots. At least they used to before the tournament. Now that it's crunch time, Syracuse is rolling its non-center starters out 35+ minutes a game each. Carter-Williams and Triche have been on the bench for a combined 17 minutes in the three vaguely competitive games 'Cuse has played in the tourney.

Here are the guys you'll see for maybe four minutes:

  • Guard Trevor Cooney mostly shoots threes at a 26% clip. Yeah… okay guy. He'll come in to D-up in the zone when Boeheim wants to snatch a little rest for his starters. Chance of trillion: high.
  • Wing-type-guy Jerami Grant is pretty nondescript statistically, mostly an inefficient two-point shooter with mediocre rebounding numbers. He does block a lot of shots.
  • Center DaJaun Coleman is available, but except for the Montana laugher he hasn't played more than a handful of minutes since January. He's a high-rebound, high-usage, low-efficiency guy if he does end up seeing the court. Again, the only way that'll happen is if Christmas and Keita get in extreme foul trouble.

If any bench player other than Keita plays a significant role, Michigan is feeling good about that.

THE RESUME

Syracuse didn't do much in the nonconference schedule other than knock off future seven seed SDSU in the season opener. That was on an aircraft carrier; SDSU was 1 of 18 from three. Since that was outdoors that may not be a particularly meaningful game.

YHOOPS1-articleLarge

U-S-A! U-S-awwww we have to cancel this probably

Syracuse's other KP100 nonconference wins came against Princeton, Detroit, and Arkansas (at home, by nine). They lost to Temple at MSG. Their nonconference record against future tourney teams, then: 1-1, with a win over a #7 and a loss to a #9.

In Big East play they were kind of meh. They went 11-7; they finished fifth in the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Their prime scalp is a two point win at Louisville, which yeah okay nice win. They also won home games against Villanova, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame.

Their losses were numerous but at least they were all understandable. The worst loss was probably at Connecticut or a 22 point bombing Georgetown put on them at the end of the regular season. The Orange then made a run to the Big East final, downing Pitt and the Georgetown team that had just hammered them before getting thumped by Louisville in the final. Syracuse actually led that game 48-43 with 11 minutes left before the Cardinals finished the game on a 35-13 run. Yeah, 35 points in 11 minutes. But that's another game preview.

In the tourney Syracuse took it to the proverbial Next Level, demolishing Montana by a women's scoreline, easing by Cal in a game that was nowhere near a close as the final score makes it appear ('Cuse led by 13 with 2 minutes left), confusing Indiana into one billion Cody Zeller blocked shots, and strangling Marquette by 16. No one has put up more than 60 on Cuse in the tournament and that was Cal inflating their point total in a futile attempt to extend the game: they had 45 points 38 minutes in.

THE PROTIPS

Trevor Cooney a redshirt freshman on this years Syracuse men's basketball team looks down the bench before this years team photo is taken at 2012 Syracuse Men's Basketball Media Day at the Carmelo K. Anthony Center. Dennis Nett/The Post-StandardIf you can manage to get someone other than a Syracuse center in foul trouble, that would be great. If Michigan sees a lot of Trevor Cooney, things get a lot easier for them. The Orangemen are incredibly thin. They essentially cannot replace lost offensive production from any of their starters not named Rakeem Christmas. I'm not really sure Michigan putting them in foul trouble is possible, though: Michigan doesn't draw any fouls and only Southerland averages more than 3 fouls per 40.

It's hard to focus your attention on any particular player in a zone, meanwhile. Best bet might be trying to draw a charge on one of the guards if they pick up an early foul.

Beast up, Mitch. Michigan isn't going to turn it over much and Syracuse is vulnerable on the offensive boards. Mitch McGary is one of the country's best offensive rebound vacuums, and that's not just based on his recent run. He's top ten in OREB rate over the course of the season.

Meanwhile he's pumping in those putbacks at an incredible rate, finishing easily with both hands. A double double beckons if McGary can stay on the court, and he likely will since he won't be picking up a ton of fouls against 'Cuse's low-usage bigs and the play against Syracuse is to keep them away from the rim and see what happens.

Bombs away. Syracuse forces a lot of threes. Michigan's inclined to take them, albeit not quite as much as the usual Beilein team. Where and when Michigan gets the copious threes they'll be putting up is important. If they're coming off Burke stopping at the free throw line and facilitating this is ideal. Kenpom points out that once you focus on Syracuse's Big East schedule their intimidating three-point defense tends to drop away. Even in this year of crubberating defense the Orange were only 8th in 3P% D in Big East play. IE: average.

Michigan has long shooters and a OREB beast; they're playing a D that turns you over a lot and blocks you a ton but gives up a ton of offensive rebounds. When in doubt they should pretend they are Minnesota. Have a shot? Take it. If you miss there's a 40% chance it's going back up anyway.

You: stay away from the rim. If Michigan keeps Syracuse away from the rim, the Orangemen will either be having an out of body experience on jumpers or be idling a good distance under a PPP. The gameplan should be similar that against VCU, except with less respect paid to threes: sag off guys, try to stay in front of them, don't go for low-probability blocked shots. Let them put it up, and let's have a shooting contest.

Southerland is the only exception. Michigan needs to identify him at all times and live in his jock. He is Just  A Shooter.

michigan010813_20130108194119_320_240As per usual, go get it in transition. Michigan's been climbing up the tempo charts and is now almost average. Most relevantly for Michigan, Syracuse turns the ball over quite a bit for a top outfit. They're especially vulnerable to steals.

Burke's trademark pickpocket might spot them a 2 or 4 point lead; Mitch might have an opportunity to get some of those perimeter steals against lazy passes, especially since if he misses the opposing big isn't likely to take two dribbles and cram it down Michigan's throat.

Like games against Kansas and Florida, the best way to avoid a clamp-down defensive outfit is to not let it get set up.

Trey Burke: maintain efficiency. If you're looking for a better sample size for that whole "Syracuse destroys small guards" meme, Peyton Siva's consistently miserable outings are worrying. The 6'0" Louisville PG doesn't have great numbers, but that may be because he's had to play Syracuse three times this year. In those matchups he's a stunning 1/20 from three and 3/6 from two. Siva shot 35% from three in games not against Syracuse this year.

Similarly diminutive Russ Smith had better luck, FWIW, with 25, 18, and 10 points at acceptable efficiency rates. What with the Big East being light on Burke-level guards this year we have little data other than those Louisville games and the Indiana demolition.

It goes without saying that Michigan's path to victory gets pretty hazy if Burke is turning in Siva numbers.

Win the high post. Michigan has three avenues into the high post area that is the traditionally-declared weakness of the 2-3 zone: pass to Hardaway, pass to McGary, or screen Trey in there. Hardaway's main weapon is a FT line jumper that he can vary. McGary can take the elbow jumper or drive if the big comes up. The question there is can he maintain an acceptably low TO rate when put in a difficult, decision-demanding situation?

Meanwhile, Burke is an excellent option anywhere on the court but getting him to the spot is tough. He might have to press a bit and risk some turnovers.

In any case, a key metric to look for is GRIII dunks in the half court as he plunges down the baseline.

THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES

Michigan by one.

Comments

FreddieMercuryHayes

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:17 PM ^

Guys, I don't think we win this one.  Over at UM Hoops, they have a Beilein quote from WV saying "I’m 0-7 against Coach Boeheim and I haven’t found a way to beat him. And it’s so consistent every year. … You can’t beat it.”  Granted, talent is waaaay higher here than at WV, and Trey Burke is Trey Burke and SU hasn't played Trey Burke even though many other gaurds may look like Trey Burke.  But this also the best SU defense in the past decade.  And we have a ton of youth that is, at this time, playing at the top of their game.  But the thing with youth is that it's fragile, and can come down at any moment.  That 2-3 can confuse the youth and throw off the offensive game, and I'm not sure if our D is up to completely shutting down even their limited offense.  It's going to be a tough one.

bronxblue

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:34 PM ^

I don't disagree that it will be a tough game, but I think people are overrating this SU defense a bit.  They have length and the zone is tough, but a big reason is because most teams don't have enough good shooters to make SU pay for leaving open looks.  UM has legitimate shooters at four positions, and that will be hard to defend if ball movement is maintained.  I also bristle at the idea that Syracuse's defense is somehow dominant; I watched them play enough games this year to see how they went 11-7 in an okay BE.  When they can disrupt your offense and get into transition on misses, they can beat anyone in the country.  But if shots are falling at a reasonable clip, they have trouble keeping up because their offense has a pronounced ceiling unless someone gets mega-hot.  The IU win was impressive, but otherwise I've been less than impressed with their run so far, as Marquette made it to the Elite 8 by winning 3 games by a combined 13 points, including an escape against Davison to start the tourney.  

 

Needs

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

I do wonder if this is one of those cases where a good tourney run is overweighing everything that went before. Looking at those numbers from the Big East, they're not terrifically impressive, but they have faced teams that their defense is well designed to stop -- a 13 seed, two bad 3 point teams and a team with two small guards (of course, it's totally fair and probably appropriate to turn this argument around on Michigan, save the Kansas game). 

bronxblue

April 3rd, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

I kind of agree about their run.  Cal probably was a bit underseeded but not horribly so, and playing Marquette as a weak #3 seed certainly helped.  IU was a good win and impressive, but I look at UM's path and, outside of Florida instead of G'Town, they played the "toughest" (i.e. highest-ranked) seeds they could have throughout the tourney.  Syracuse got basically two 13 seeds, a team probably a bit overseeded, and IU.  They've done well for it, but we saw VCU destroy Akron and then fall apart against people who could play cohesive offense.  Small sample size warnings abound.

bronxblue

April 3rd, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

I recognize that, but at the same time going 3-14 isn't the biggest sample size in the world, and I do believe part of their problems stemmed from a gameplan decision by Crean.  I mean, about a quarter of those 3-point attempts came toward the end of the game when IU was trying to get back in the game, which can put you in bad positions.  Also, Jordan Hulls going 0-6 skews those numbers quite a bit; Oladipo connected on his one attempt and Watford was 50% despite some late-game shooting.  I'm not saying UM can't lose because I assume they'll always be hitting shots like they did against VCU and Florida, but IU probably could have shot better had they attempted more outside shots within the framework of their offense.

Overall, I think Beilein will have the team prepared; whether or not they win is another matter that may be well beyond planning and fall instead into the realm of "stuff happens" when a bunch of college kids play against each other.  But I'm not sold that SU has unearthed some Holy Grail for winning in CBB.

PeterKlima

April 3rd, 2013 at 2:35 PM ^

I think Hulls had a shoulder injury too and so his shot was off. If IU's best three point shooter is healthy enough to make a couple shots AND Crean has a better gameplan, then IU and Cuse go down to the wire at least.

I think UM's equally good offense doesn't have those two major problems (Stauskus is healthy and Beilein is light years ahead of Crean especially since he knows SU).

I am worried that IU's ability to run didn't Help them too much though.

I think Michigan matches up against the zone well overall. If Louisville and their spotty offense can exploit it and Beilein can study the tap,e we can figure it out too. I would be interested to know how Boeheim does against coaches known as smart tacticians who also have talent.

M-Dog

April 3rd, 2013 at 3:22 PM ^

The key will be hitting at least two threes over the top of the zone early in the game.  It will be Syracuse's "Uh Oh" moment.  

It would be especially helpful if at least one of them comes from a player that Syracuse is not keying on . . . i.e. not Burke or Stauskas.  If GRIII hits one, Syracuse will implode.  All kinds of good things will happen, similar to when we easily broke the first couple of presses early in the VCU game.

 

Needs

April 3rd, 2013 at 3:36 PM ^

Hulls was also playing with a separated shoulder. 

It's crazy that they only got Oladipo one 3, but from what I saw most of the year, he had to go find his points through drives, defense and scramble situations. They didn't run a lot for him and the zone really cut down on his ability to drive. But man, what a terrible game plan that is. It makes me hopeful that, although Crean is probably going to have one of the most talented teams every year, they're not going to play to their ability (if you read Titus, this is what he thinks, too)>

SU 44 BleedOrange

April 4th, 2013 at 8:55 AM ^

Really...come on there is no way your team wins this game. SU D is even better against teams that have never seen it. Here is what is going to happen, burke is going to go 3-13 FG, 5 turnovers and will not be effective. UM will settle for a whole bunch of threes after they give up going inside, we play in the Big East 11-7 is pretty good in the big east after we lost 4 players last year. Big east will beat out your conference every single year. We had 8 teams in the tournament the last 5 years that’s why we are destroying everyone in the tournament because we are used to playing against rough competition in the big east. The middle team in the big east is still better than one of the top teams in your conference. We will win then we will probably lose to the cards, unless we shoot lights out. Sorry but this is what will happen.

Michigan Arrogance

April 7th, 2013 at 9:18 AM ^

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

your tears are my breakfast 

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

jmblue

April 3rd, 2013 at 1:00 PM ^

Also, Bill Self was 8-0 against Michigan, so I don't know why we bothered to play them.

Beilein's quote regarding Syracuse needs to be read in its proper coachspeak context.  

MGoRossGrad

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

I think this is the biggest concern:  showing up.

I'm not in any way suggesting that Beilein nor the team has thrown in the towel, said "we're just glad to make it this far," and come out uninterested.

But just from the tourney standpoint and from a couple of instances this year, long breaks between games haven't been kind to us.

In the SDSU game we started slow and were trailing for a good chuck of the first half.  The next week we started slow for about the first 35 minutes against Kansas.  Now we have another break in between games. 

I hope that the Florida game really left an impression with the team:  Win the first 5 minutes.  By a lot.  Attacking early means being ahead early which means the game is a lot easier.

I think this game comes down to the end.  Michigan by 2.

M-Wolverine

April 3rd, 2013 at 4:23 PM ^

It seems like the Beilein offense is a bitch to prepare for with one day off.  But if you have more time, or play them multiple times every year, it doesn't become easy, but doable. At least for awhile. In this case though it might be a wash because getting ready for Syracuse's D in one day would be tough, so the extra time helps.'

But it might matter if we make it to Monday night....

Blue and Joe

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

If Michigan plays like the last four games I like our chances. I just worry what a week of Final Four hype will do to the young guys. There is a lot of pressure now.

Indonacious

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:34 PM ^

I don't get that feeling. I think maybe the expectations were very high when we were ranked #1 but I get the impresison after how we finished the year and getting a 4 seed that being in the final four is really playing with house money. The team seems really loose and excited for the opportunity. It's not like they are Kentucky last year where it was title or failure type of season. I don't think they are facing any more pressure than syracuse.

jrobs7777

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

Not for nothing, but Keita seems like he is getting a lot more key minutes than Christmas recently.  According to KenPom, they are so similar that it should not matter much.  Christmas seems to have a more refined all around game, but both are all D, no O.  One possible explanation is that Christmas is unhappy at Syracuse.  Christmas is from Philly and there have been faint rumors that he could be transferring back to Philly area school.

bronxblue

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^

At this point, I've stopped being worried about other team's defenses disrupting UM noticeably.  We heard about how VCU was some terrifying squad with angry bees on the end of firey sticks that stretched 90 feet down a court; UM dropped 78 on them.  Then it was Kansas, with its huge blockmonster in the middle and all those athletes on the wings; they had 78 in regulation and another 11 in overtime.  Florida had a Kenpom-approved top defense, and UM scored 79 on them.  I know Syracuse is supposed to be the "best", most "disruptive" zone defense in the history of ESPN-approved basketball relevance, but I'm just not worried.  UM may struggle in shooting, but this offense has the best player in CBB at the helm, a bunch of guards/forwards who can shoot from distance, and a rebounding monster inside.  They'll be okay, and Syracuse's offense feels a little too rock-fighty for me to be terrified.  It will be a close game, but I'm confident that this team's impressive run so far has dispelled any concerns about the team's ability to match up again good defenses that are not playing under the B1G's "no autopsy, no foul" refereeing.

DonAZ

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:36 PM ^

1) I like your confidence; I like the way you justify your confidence

2) "... the B1G's "no autopsy, no foul" refereeing" ... I laughed out loud at that!  But it's a point I'd not considered before -- when the opposing team has to play defense by the rules, Michigan's offensive capabilities show much better.

Michigan Arrogance

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

this preview should have everyone on this here we-blog smiling. this cuse team is not a juggernaut, has issues w/ TOs, Shooting, Drebounding. their bigs don't cause foul trouble fro the other team. Their weakness and strengths (zone D) play into our strengths. The Beast had mediocre guard play all year long.

if we can be moderately successfull against the zone (hit a few 3s vs and attack the foul line) and run succesfully, we will win by 5-8 I'd guess. We're gonna look trrible vs the zone at times, we'll have a few more TOs b/c of it... but it won't be as destructive as it was for IU and Marquette. We have MUCH better guard play than they do and we have McGary going SUBS these days.

I want to hear what Brian & others  would predict if the interwebs broke and he didn't have access to the KenPom prediction

ijohnb

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:41 PM ^

your arrogance Michigan Arrogance but be advised, Syracuse is a really good team.  Triche and Carter Williams often appear to be everywhere at all times and are both very clutch players.  This is not at all the worst matchup we could have drawn in the Final Four, but cruising to an 8 point victory should not be in the plans for Saturday night.  Neither of these teams are going down easily.

Michigan Arrogance

April 3rd, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

i guess, and they were poised to be #1 for a week, but they somehow lost 7 games in the Beast and their guards have TO problems and aren't sharp shooters. they don't have high usage bigs that mcgary could get into foul trouble against.

They are getting a lot of credit for 2 games VS IU and marquette. Their D was great in those games but none of us have a ton of respect for Creans ability to coach a team up and Marquette went 3/25 from 3. that's partly the Cuse D, but also a turrible shooting Marquette team.

I still think we don't need to completely solve the 2-3 zone in order to win b/c we can run on them if we play solid D and rebound thei misses.

OTOH, Cuse WILL need to to stop us completely with their zone b/c they aren't a great shooting/offensive team and we don't turn the ball over. the only way cuse wins is if that 2-3 completely baffles M.

 

ijohnb

April 3rd, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

are looking too closely at individual parts of their profile as opposed to the whole body, missing the forest for the trees.  Forget "Kenpom says points per possession and they are -5.6 bla bla bla defensive rebounding and their forwards are not bla bla bla and +- .66999 in turnover efficiency when playing in Domes in temperatures higher than 35 degrees."  

They are big, strong, and immensely talented.  That is all we need to know.

Michigan Arrogance

April 3rd, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

1) I didn't say antyhign about kenpom stats

2) i thought i was looking at the big picture: we can solve their zone 2 ways: actually solve it and avoid it by playing good D and running off their misses. we have better guard play, better shooters and are less prone to TOs. we've beaten deeper teams with tough defenses who rebound better than Cuse.

this will be a close game, but I don't think it's carzy to say that M has the better resume and has performed better throughout the season against tougher competition and thus would expect to win on a neutral court. maybe youth is a wild card, maybe the zone is a wlid card. maybe the stage is a wild card. but Cuse has to deal with 2/3 of those too. and the youth card has been played all year long. 30wins later, is it still in the deck?

 

They are big, strong, and immensely talented.  That is all we need to know.

do you have a blog? b/c had I read this 1st I certainly wouldn't be wasting my time reading MGo. At the very least, please try to be the 1st comment on every post. that way I can just click on the comments & read your concise summaries before I spend time reading all the other crap I *don't * need to know.

 

DakotaBlue

April 3rd, 2013 at 8:12 PM ^

Syracuse has not just had a good NCAA run.  The run actually started at the beginning of the Big East tournament, which it just seemed like they hit an entirely different gear.  Teams that beat them in Big East play, like Pitt and G'Town, were dispatched easily.  They had Louisville by 16 points before they completely fell apart in the Big East champtionship game.

 

Also, Syracuse beat Louisville at Louisville's home court this year.  

 

In short, I would not take their rough patch in February as being the essence of this team any more than losing to Penn State is the essence of Michigan.

StellaBlue

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

Throughout the tournament, Burke has obviously been steady, cool and spectacular, and McGary's been a consistent machine.  That's going to continue.  Stauskas blew up (or blew back up) against Florida, but we cannot count on his going 6 for 6 again.  So who's turn is it?  Hardaway or Robinson finding a groove will be enough to win this game.  Either would be fine, but I'd really love for it to be Robinson.  Dude has so much talent taking it to the hole, but seems too shy to use it consistently.  A "lights on" weekend for him is what I'm really hoping to see.  Blow that zone apart.  Go blue!

M-Dog

April 3rd, 2013 at 5:12 PM ^

Robinson is the wild card here.  He will be the guy that Syracuse does not focus on defensively.  

If Robinson can hit some zone-busting shots from around the free-throw line, or God forbid, from three, Syracuse will implode.  It will be like the first few times when we easily broke the press against VCU.  It was all downhill from there.

 

MGoBender

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

The last non-bullet is where I see the game shifting.

If THJ can knock down the FT-line jumper at his usual rate, then we will be in a good spot.  That's his shot and it will be a shot that is available all game.  We need a big game from Timmy, and I think this is it!

BornInAA

April 3rd, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

Whatever O we use or D they play - the hot shooters win.

Our starters need to put in 12 points each minimum with two guys getting around 20.

If Stauskas or Hardaway or Robinson go cold like they did some games this season we are in trouble.

DakotaBlue

April 4th, 2013 at 11:14 AM ^

It would be great if the hot shooting continued in the same way it was going in the Kansas game, but there's obviously no guarantee.  Syracuse also has some shooters that have been streaky.  Southerland went 9 for 13 from three point land against Arkansas, for example.  Triche had a pretty significant shooting slump in February, but he's also capable of getting hot.