Rushed Reactions: #4 Syracuse 55, #3 Marquette 39Posted by rtmsf on March 30th, 2013
RTC is reporting from the East Regional in Washington, DC, this weekend.
Three Key Takeaways.
- The Elusive Forty-Point Barrier. For the fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament game, Syracuse hit the 10-minute mark of the second half with its opponent having failed to score 40 points — Montana had 20, California had 31, Indiana had 37, and Marquette had 28 at that point. It’s very difficult to win games against quality competition when there’s a lid on the basket for most of the game, but make no mistake, these are not coincidences. The Syracuse 2/3 zone is playing as well as any defense in the NCAA Tournament right now, and for all but a short period during the first half when Davante Gardner found a seam in the zone at the foul line for a few jumpers, there simply wasn’t anything open for Marquette throughout. The Golden Eagles shot a putrid 12-of-53 from the field (22.6%), its worst shooting performance of the season, which included a bricklaying 3-of-25 (13%) from distance. Marquette hit its first and last three of the game, but sandwiched in between those two makes were a whole bunch of bad misses. The looks just weren’t there.
- Marquette Made a Great Run. The Golden Eagles had a poor shooting game today, but Buzz Williams’ program took another step forward in making the Elite Eight and proving again just how good of a coach he is. They very easily could have lost either of their first two games at the subregional level, but they were able to get past both Davidson and Butler before a dominant Sweet Sixteen performance against Miami (FL). Williams spent a lot of time in the postgame press conference talking about the love he has for his players and the team chemistry that they’ve build up throughout the season. It’s clear that he’s a coach that the players really believe in, and he manages to get the most from his group every year as a result. Much like another prominent program in the great state of Wisconsin, it might be time to start slotting MU into the top tier of the Big East regardless of the talent that Williams has at his disposal. The program is in fantastic hands.
- It’s the Zone, Stupid. Not to beat a dead horse here, but the Syracuse zone is playing as well as head coach Jim Boeheim has ever seen from his players. With the size and athleticism at the top of the zone from Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche, open shots are very difficult to find. Through the four games of the NCAA Tournament, teams are hitting a collective 35.8% from two-point range and a ridiculous 15.4% from three-point range. Even if the Orange themselves are not making shots — like tonight when they hit only 38.0% from the field — they’re always going to be in good shape because of how difficult the zone is to solve. Both Michigan and Florida are well-coached and filled with shot-makers, but we’re having trouble seeing how either backcourt will be able to find openings any more than the Indiana or Marquette guards were. It says here that Louisville may be the only team still playing that has the personnel and the know-how to beat the SU defense.
Star of the Game. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse. The Syracuse point guard and East Region Most Outstanding Player had an all-around great floor game, scoring 12 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing out six assists and notching five steals. Most importantly, though, MCW played under control and only committed a single turnover. In his 75 minutes of action here in Washington, DC, over the weekend, the sometimes-wild Carter-Williams coughed up the ball three times. If he continues to play like that on the offensive end, Syracuse is as likely a team as any to win the 2013 national championship.
All-East Region Team: Davante Gardner, Vander Blue, James Southerland, CJ Fair, Michael Carter-Williams (MOP).
- “We were here three weeks ago today when it didn’t turn out so good. [...] It’s been a great transformation in that period. Our defense has just been tremendous.”" — Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, referring to the 61-39 loss that the Orange took at the hands of Georgetown in the last game of the regular season.
- “They don’t know anything. They know about playing.” – Boeheim, referring to a quote from the players about the team’s game strategies.
- “I think every shot I take is going in (laughing).” — James Southerland, talking about his leaning three late in the second half that felt like a dagger to everyone in the building.
- “They have pros. [...] After they win the national championship, they [have guys] that may not play for SU anymore.” — Marquette head coach Buzz Williams, suggesting that SU is the favorite to win the title next week in large part because they have such talented players.
Sights and Sounds. The nation’s pre-eminent basketball fan headed down Pennsylvania Avenue this afternoon to take in the game. When his face was put up on the jumbotron, the entire crowd of 19,801 cheered. When NCAA president Mark Emmert was pictured on the screen, though, a loud chorus of boos went up.
What’s Next. Syracuse advances to its fifth Final Four in school history, with Jim Boeheim heading to the fourth final weekend of his career. He’s made three national championship games, winning one in 2003. His Orange will play the winner of the Michigan-Florida game on Saturday, and no doubt either team will have their hands full with this impressive Syracuse zone.