The ACC Big Ten Challenge is one of the most exciting preseason tournaments in all of college basketball because of the depth in each conference. But one of tonight’s intriguing matchups didn’t end up as close as many people might have thought it would be. The Syracuse Orange took pretty easy care of the Indians Hoosiers 69-52 in a rematch of last year’s Sweet Sixteen showdown.
These two teams look completely different than the two teams that squared off in March, but one thing is the same for Syracuse and that is head coach Jim Boeheim and his vaunted 2-3 zone defense. The personnel may change year after year and this year it is two young guys on the wings in Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis, but Beoheim can teach almost anyone how to run this zone. What they do is force turnovers and contest shots, and the Hoosiers were unable to connect on offense, especially from long range.
The Hoosiers shot 4-for-14 from beyond the arc with all four connected by Yogi Ferrell. The rest of the team went 0-for-7 and while Syracuse’s defense had a lot to do with that this could be an alarming sign all year for the Hoosiers.
Gone are their three top three-point shooters from last season in Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford. All that remains is Will Sheehey and Ferrell, and they will need to carry the team from beyond the arc. Syracuse’s defense is tough because it tricks you into thinking you have open looks when they’re not really there because they rotate so fast.
Indiana clearly was not ready for a team like Syracuse and they will need to improve their long-range shooting if they want to make a run during March Madness again.