There’s just under 24 hours remaining to fill out your NCAA brackets for March Madness. The Syracuse Orange (20-13, 10-8), are locked in as an eight seed and will play the Baylor Bears (19-13, 10-8) tomorrow at 10 pm in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Fortunately, the Orange have already beat the #1 overall seed in the tournament, the Duke Blue Devils. However, Duke is at full strength and have eyes on more than just an ACC championship this season.
As an eight seed in the West Region, the Orange have the weakest of the #1 seeds in Gonzaga. However, Gonzaga is the only team that has defeated Duke at full strength. Before the Orange play Gonzaga however, they have to get past Baylor. Syracuse is currently favored against Baylor by 2.5 points in Vegas.
Looking at the two teams’ records, they appear to be a perfect 8-9 seed matchup. An additional similarity to these two teams is that they both live or die by zone defense. An early x-factor in this matchup will be each team’s ability to shoot beyond the arc.
For the longer part of the season, Syracuse was not considered a three-point shooting team. They are currently shooting 33% beyond the arc this season. However, Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim are shooting above the team average at 36 % each. Boeheim is coming off two career games with the absence of Tyus Battle in the ACC tournament. In the two games Syracuse played, Boeheim averaged 17.5 points per game, shooting 50% beyond the arc.
On the other side, Baylor is shooting 34% beyond the arc. They also have two shooters shooting above the team average, Makai Mason at 36.5% and Jared Butler at 35.7%. However, with Syracuse being the tallest team in the country, their zone should be able to prevail and prevent Baylor from driving inside the paint.
Syracuse and Baylor are two of the few March Madness teams that still play a zone defense. As a result, neither team faces a zone defense during conference play so it will be a tough task for each team to beat themselves at their own game.
Tune into WAER at 88.3 for tipoff at 10 pm tomorrow and countdown to tipoff 30 minutes before. Also stay tuned for the Double Overtime that will be on air until 2 am Friday morning breaking down the results.