The Syracuse Orange needed a boost after losing five of their last seven games, and they got it in the form of a first round drubbing of Western Michigan in the 2014 NCAA tournament. After winning their first 25 games of the season, many people picked Syracuse as a favorite to win the tournament, but they fell to a three seed after their late season struggles and out of favor with the seeding committee.
Trevor Cooney led the way for Syracuse, hitting four of eight three-pointers. Cooney has struggled shooting the ball lately, which has a lot to do with the team’s offensive struggles in their recent losses. He’s been shooting just under 25 percent from the field since Syracuse started the rough patch.
The sophomore guard needed a bounce-back performance to gain confidence and get Syracuse rolling in the right direction. He was the leader of their offense in the first round, and they need him to be a threat from the outside to open up the lane for C.J. Fair and Jeremy Grant.
Tyler Ennis was also a key contributor for Syracuse offensively, going 7-for-11 from the field with 16 points.
Syracuse shut down the Broncos’ top two players — center Shayne Whittington and David Brown — who were both key to Western Michigan’s success this season. The Broncos’ offense is at its best when the ball moves through Whittington, and the two-three zone of Syracuse was able to force turnovers and keep the ball out of his hands. Brown usually adds the outside shooting, but he was held to just 2-for-12 from the field.
Syracuse moves on to play the Dayton Flyers, who upset Ohio State in thrilling March Madness style in the first round. The Orange got back to their roots in the first round and need to continue to play defense first and force turnovers. If they do that, they should have no problem moving on to the Sweet 16.