If your bracket wasn’t busted before last night, it surely must be now as the #1 seed Indiana Hoosiers fell to the #4 Syracuse Orange 61-50. Syracuse had a comfortable lead throughout most of the game and Indiana, aside from the first two minutes of the second half, never felt like they could mount a serious comeback. Syracuse will meet the #3 seed Marquette Golden Eagles to see who will come out of the NCAA Tournament’s East Bracket.
Syracuse’s matchup 2-3 zone gave Indiana fits throughout the game. Indiana never looked comfortable in offensive sets and seemed to always shoot or pass the ball a half second too late, which allowed Syracuse to cover previously open plays. Indiana’s woeful 20% (3-15) from behind the arc didn’t help either. The size and length of Syracuse’s two guards, Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche averaging 6’5″ in height, helped clog passing lanes and instill doubt into Indiana’s two much shorter starting guards, Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls. To encapsulate how good the Syracuse defense was, with a little less than two minutes left in the first half, Indiana had only scored 11 points when they have averaged 40 points a half for the year.
Syracuse didn’t look all that impressive offensively, however. Carter-Williams was the only true offensive threat for the Orange scoring 24 points on 47% shooting (9-19). Syracuse allowed Indiana to hang in the game in the first half because of untimely turnovers and a late run by the Hoosiers.
What little offense Indiana did have came from potential AP All-American Victor Oladipo scoring 16 points but only taking six shots. Cody Zeller, one of the nation’s top players, was held to a mere 10 points on 30% (3-10) shooting.
Syracuse’s win over Indiana is a bit of a shock. Usually with a Syracuse team you can tell whether they are poised for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament or will bow out early and I pegged them for a Round of 32 exit. Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim clearly have figured out the team’s late season woes and have now made two long tournament runs.
All year Indiana could be taken at face value. They were a very good team, very solid all around, but rarely ever surprised. Indiana felt very much like a machine with a sum greater than its individual parts. They never had that next gear that usually a team needs to win in the postseason, and as a result, they could not handle Syracuse. This game also could be the last for both Oladipo and Zeller as they could jump to the NBA, leaving Indiana in a state of flux for next season.
Syracuse will face fellow Big East member Marquette, although they won’t be members for long, in the Elite Eight. Marquette is probably an even bigger surprise than Syracuse has been thus far especially after such a resounding win over Miami earlier in the night. Syracuse won’t be able to surprise Marquette with its defense so the Orange will have to get into a groove early if they want to go on to the Final Four.