There are no real surprises when matching up with the Syracuse Orange.
Teams know what defense they are going to see and that’s Syracuse’s infamous 2-3 zone. Head coach Jim Boeheim, who is the second winningest coach all-time at the Division I level, has coached the zone for his entire career. Ironically enough, here in 2013, that zone is shining and their defense is carrying Syracuse to the Final Four.
By way of the East Region, the Orange are now bound for Atlanta where they will square off against Michigan for the right to advance to the National Championship.
So the question must be asked — will Michigan figure out Syracuse’s zone?
The Orange aren’t just wreaking havoc on the defensive end and stifling opponents. In addition, they are making history in the process. Syracuse has only allowed 183 points in four games during the NCAA Tournament. That’s an all-time low for a team that has advanced through the Elite 8.
At 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams is alongside Brandon Triche at the top of the 2-3 zone and that height and length makes it so difficult for teams to jump start their offense. The good news for Michigan however, is that they feature All-American point guard Trey Burke.
Burke will need to have a big game in this one for the Wolverines to advance. Not only will Burke have to score as usual, but he will need to find a way to penetrate the zone and create for his teammates. Michigan was hitting shots in their Elite 8 victory over Florida and that’s something the needs to carry over.
Over the course of the entire tournament, nobody has had an answer inside for Mitch McGary, but Syracuse has not been phased one bit by inside threats in the past two weeks. Most notably in that argument is Indiana‘s Cody Zeller. So, that will be another aspect of this game to keep an eye on.
Everything aside, this game for Syracuse is once again going to come down to their defensive ability. It’s got them this far, but can it get them to the National Championship?
We will find out on Saturday night.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS