The last game of day one in second round action in the NCAA Tournament will pit the Syracuse Orange against the California Golden Bears. The game itself will have two teams who have two totally different narratives going into the match-up.
The Orange, in their last year of being a member of the Big East, will look to go on a deep NCAA Tournament run while wild speculation of a scandal looms over their heads. The Golden Bears, well, they already had their scandal that involved Mike Montgomery man-handling his best player, Allen Crabbe.
Crabbe has already started to etch a name for himself in this year’s big dance. In the Golden Bears’ opening round victory, Crabbe scored 19 effortless points and led his team in enough ways to help them advance to the next round. Now it is up to Crabbe to help Cal get past a highly-favored Orange squad.
Syracuse’s team loves themselves some zone defense — 2-3 zone to be exact. A zone is generally designed to force an opposing team to shoot from the outside. The idea, while flawed, is that the offense will not be able to hit regular jump shots with enough consistency to be able to stay in the game. Crabbe might not be a 3-point specialist, but he does have the ability to be a zone-buster with his mid-range jump shot abilities.
A zone is not designed to take a specific player out of the game, but more of a way to keep an entire team at bay. The Orange does not rely only on Crabbe for their bucket-making needs, but he is their main threat. If the Golden Bears want to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, they will have to rely on Crabbe as a zone-serial killer.
Where there is a Crabbe, there is a way.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone