East Regional Final Game Analysis: #3 Marquette Vs #4 SyracusePosted by Brian Otskey on March 30th, 2013
#3 Marquette vs. #4 Syracuse — East Regional Final (at Washington, D.C.) — 4:30 pm ET on CBS.
Big East fans will be treated to one final conference game so to speak (unless the winner of this game meets Louisville for the national title) this evening in Washington. Despite being the lower seed, Syracuse enters the east regional final as the favorite, a winner in six of its last seven games. The Orange are defending at an unbelievable level and one has to look no further than Thursday’s game against Indiana to see why. The Orange held the Hoosiers to a season-low 50 points on 33.3% shooting in a dominating performance against arguably the best team in the country. Michael Carter-Williams poured in 24 points for the victors, who were never really challenge by Indiana all night. Against Big East foe Marquette, who Syracuse will play for the final time as a member of the conference, the Orange figure to be just as imposing defensively. Marquette is a team that gets a huge percentage of its points in the paint and from the free throw line.
When these two teams met in their only regular season meeting on February 25 in Milwaukee, Marquette was able to come away with a three point win thanks to dominance in the paint. The Golden Eagles visited the free throw line 35 times to Syracuse’s 7 and shot 58% inside the three point arc. Davante Gardner led the way with 26 points in that game and will need to come up big for Marquette once again if the Golden Eagles are to advance to the Final Four for the fourth time in school history and only the second time since Al McGuire’s 1977 championship team.
On paper, this appears to be a good match-up for Syracuse. Jim Boeheim has superior length and athleticism on his squad and that, combined with the defense playing at an incredibly high level, is a lethal combination. Syracuse’s defensive game plan may be made easier in this game thanks to the fact that Marquette is a very poor outside shooting team. Buzz Williams’ club shoots just 30.5% from beyond the arc and that could allow Boeheim the luxury of not having to extend his zone so far out on shooters as he did against Indiana. The Hoosiers rarely attacked the middle of the zone or the baseline and paid the price for it. That won’t be so easy for Marquette because of its lack of quality outside shooting. Gardner, Vander Blue, and Jamil Wilson will be the key players for the Golden Eagles. Williams needs at least two of those guys to have good games in order for Marquette to advance to Atlanta. Wilson has shown glimpses of his big time potential while Blue is in the midst of a breakout tournament run.
This game could be decided in two areas: the offensive glass and the turnover margin. Both teams are fantastic offensive rebounding clubs, but Syracuse should have a strong edge in the turnover department. One of the problems for the Orange in the February meeting was that the turnover margin was even (11 to 11). Syracuse, normally a team that forces plenty of turnovers, was not able to get steals and live ball giveaways against a Marquette team that averages 13 turnovers per game. That limited Syracuse’s transition attack and allowed the Golden Eagles to get comfortable in the half court where they went to work in the paint. Four players do the bulk of the scoring for Syracuse but Baye Keita’s emergence as a second chance scorer and strong defender makes the Orange very tough to overcome. Marquette has won three of the last four meetings between these two teams but we feel Syracuse’s length and athleticism will be too much to overcome this time around. You can bet Boeheim and his staff have studied the film of the first game with Marquette and will make the proper adjustments. Look for Syracuse to attack the rim a bit more than usual and be very active defensively, looking for turnovers in the open court. Syracuse is in quite a groove right now and we expect that to keep on rolling towards Atlanta.
The RTC Certified Pick: Syracuse.