Syracuse University Orange: NCAA Tournament Team Preview

Syracuse Orange

Syracuse University (3 Seed, South Bracket)

Record: 27-5 (14-4 Atlantic Coast Conference)

Coach: Jim Boeheim

Tournament Birth: At-Large Bid

Big Wins: Villanova, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Duke, N.C. State, Florida State

Big Losses: Duke, N.C. State, Virginia

Syracuse University spent most of the season as the nation’s top team. Jim Boeheim’s club rushed out of the gates and began the season 25-0 while knocking off the likes of No. 3 Villanova, No. 15 North Carolina and No. 7 Duke  all in the process. After the fast start, however, the No. 11 Orange sputtered to the finish with a 2-5 record, getting dropped in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals by N.C. State following ugly losses to ACC  cellar dwellers eleventh place Georgia Tech and thirteenth place Boston College.

BC, coincidentally, handed Syracuse their first loss of the season when they defeated them 62-59 at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 19. Since the Boston College loss, Boeheim got ejected from a game for the first time in his career when the Orange visited Cameron Indoor Stadium. The coach has been at the helm for the Orange since 1976. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that Syracuse did not post consecutive victories the rest of the season.

 Top Players

POINTS

PPG

FG%

FT%

3PT%

C.J. Fair

16.7

.432

.720

.279

Tyler Ennis

12.7

.409

.755

.372

REBOUNDS

REB

OFF

DEF

BPG

Jerami Grant

6.9

2.5

4.4

0.6

C.J. Fair

6.2

1.6

4.6

0.8

ASSISTS

APG

SPG

TO

AST/TO

Tyler Ennis

5.6

2.1

1.7

3.2

Jerami Grant

1.4

0.8

1.1

1.3

Starting Five

F –   C.J. Fair

F –  Rakim Christmas

F –  Jerami Grant

G – Tyler Ennis

G – Trevor Cooney

Who’s Hot: Jerami Grant, Tyler Ennis. Grant, who averages 12.2 points per game, has increased that average to 17.5 the last two games by dropping 16 on Florida State and 19 on N.C. State. The sophomore forward recorded a double-double against the Wolfpack by adding Ten rebounds. He almost did the same thing in the regular season finale against the Seminoles, who he outhustled for eight rebounds.

As for Ennis, the freshman guard has scored 18, 16 and 21 points the last three games. During the regular season Ennis averaged only 12.7 points per game. The 6’2″ 180 lb. guard also contributed 10 rebounds and 21 assists in those games against Georgia Tech, Florida State and N.C. State.

Who’s Not: C.J. Fair. The senior forward and leading scorer for the Orange laid an egg in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. He scored nine points on a paltry 3-16 shooting performance, although he did crash the boards for five rebounds. Fair averaged nearly 17 points per game and more than six rebounds per game during the regular season.

Outlook: The question is, which Jim Boeheim-coached team will show up to the big dance? Will it be the team that raced out to a 25-0 start and man-handled team after team including five ranked opponents, or will it be the Syracuse club that finished the season 2-5 to back into either a No. 3  seed in the NCAA tournament. If Boeheim can help his troops rediscover the tenacity that held opponents to an average of 59.5 points per game, then the sky is the limit for the Orange. Still, it is hard to pick a team to make a run to the Final Four when they have not won back-to-back games in over a month.

Commentary by Jeremy Mika

Sources:

CBS Sports

Basketball State

ESPN 

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