(3) Marquette vs. (4) Syracuse Preview
(3) Marquette Golden Eagles
The Miami (Fl.) Hurricanes were far from healthy going into their Sweet 16 match up against the Golden Eagles, but with how well they played it’s hard to imagine things going much better for the Hurricanes even if they were at full strength. Four Golden Eagles scored in double figures, led by Vander Blue’s 14 points, three rebounds and two assists in the 71-61 victory. Defensively the Golden Eagles really did a great job of shutting off the paint and making the Hurricanes settle for the three. They took 26 shots from distance, making just eight. In the Elite Eight they’ll have the advantage of going up against a team they just beat last month. In that game, played at Marquette, the Golden Eagles’ received a career-best outing from Davante Gardner, who scored 26 points on a perfect 7-7 shooting from the field while grabbing eight rebounds. They also made 35 trips to the free throw line. To go 2-0 against the Orange this season and move onto the Final Four they have to efficiently attack the Orange’s stingy 2-3 zone defense and have steady production across the board like they did in the Sweet 16.
(4) Syracuse Orange
It was difficult to try and predict which Orange team we were going to see in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but now we know we’re seeing the peak version. They made their most convincing statement of the tournament on Friday night, eliminating No. 1 seed Indiana 61-50 behind the strong play of their backcourt. Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell were absolutely no match for Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche, who combined to score 38 points and grab nine rebounds. Carter-Williams also had four steals. The Orange’s zone gave the Hoosiers fits, limiting them to just 50 points on 16-48 shooting overall. The Hoosiers also committed 18 turnovers. The Orange should go into their Elite Eight match up against the Golden Eagles confident because while they did lose in their only meeting earlier this season, they led for most of that game and know that they can beat the Golden Eagles. They simply need to maintain their level of play defensively in order to be in a great position to move onto the Final Four. If their backcourt puts forth another star effort, look for the Orange to come out on top.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Syracuse. The Orange are playing at a different level than they were back on Feb. 25. They will dominate on the defensive end of the floor and move onto the Final Four.