(4) Syracuse vs. (12) California
(4) Syracuse Orange
In one of the most dominating performances of the day, the Orange played like they were insulted people were giving the Montana Grizzlies the slightest chance, thumping them 81-34. The Grizzlies were at a loss for how to successfully attack the Orange offensively. Jordan Gregory, Kareem Jamar and Spencer Coleman tied for team high honors in scoring with five apiece, putting the Grizzlies’ offensive struggles into perspective. Meanwhile the Orange did as they pleased offensively, led by the 20 points, four assists and four steals of Brandon Triche. Michael Carter-Williams was in playmaker mode, handing out nine assists to two turnovers while also grabbing eight rebounds. The Orange took great care of the basketball and were a +11 on the boards. They’re going up against a California team with an offense better equipped to attack their zone. They’ll have to know where Allen Crabbe is at all times defensively and really guard the three in order to advance to the Sweet 16.
(12) California Golden Bears
Behind the 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists of Allen Crabbe the Golden Bears were able to avenge and earlier season loss to UNLV and move onto the Round of 32. The Golden Bears really did a nice job defensively of taking away the easy looks away from Anthony Bennett. He finished with 15 and 11, but overall he and the rest of the Rebels had to work hard for everything they got offensively. The Golden Bears were able to spread the Rebels out defensively and knock down 45 percent of their three point attempts. Justin Cobbs was a perfect 3-3 from deep. They’re going to need to be just as precise and selective from three against the 2-3 zone defense of the Orange. They’ll also have to crash the glass hard and try to force the Orange into making some mistakes offensively if they want to get into the Sweet 16.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Syracuse. The Orange looked like a machine on Thursday and although the Golden Bears are a much tougher team than Montana, we don’t think they’re going to be able to slow them down enough to pull off the upset.