The buzzer sounded and the head coach Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange entered halftime of the 2013 Big East Championship game with a 13-point lead over the Louisville Cardinals. The Orange were just 20 minutes away from the coveted final Big East, as we know it, tourney title and maybe even a 2 or 3-seed in the NCAATournament.
But they collapsed and Louisville eventually won by 17 points. Syracuse was outscored by 30 points in the second half. Thirty! That is not a good sign for the Orange in the Big Dance.
Because of their collapse, the No. 4 seeded Syracuse has suddenly become a popular pick to be on the wrong end of an epic first-round upset. When the bracket immediately came out, many talking heads predicted that No. 13 seed Montana would have a great chance to upset the Orange. And here’s why: Rick Pitino demonstrated exactly how to beat Boeheim’s historic zone.
Louisville really broke down their zone with incredible ball movement and tremendous guard play. While the nation knows all about Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, they will soon know Montana’s guards as well. Kareem Jamar and Will Cherry will have the same opportunity to attack Syracuse as well.
If Syracuse is able to advance past Montana, it will need to rely on its defense and must keep its composure in the later rounds of the tournament. But if its fabled game plan will no longer work, Boeheim will have to go back to the drawing board.