The first weekend of March Madness is similar to a long distance run. Runners usually go at a slower pace to keep logging longer distances and stay on their feet for a longer time. That’s how college hoops fans approach the first few days of games of the NCAA Tournament. The second weekend is a little bit slower but more analogous to a “tempo” run. The games are still moving at a faster pace but not necessarily at the pace of a sprint, so the fans can focus on the specific mechanics of the game and key matchups. Four B1G teams will showcase their talents over the next couple days during the Sweet Sixteen. More than likely, a couple of teams will advance into the Elite Eight but every one of them – Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana — has a shot to keep moving towards the Final Four. Let’s examine if Wisconsin and Ohio State have what it takes to be elite based on their matchups in the round of 16.
Wisconsin vs. Syracuse
- Key Matchup: Wisconsin’s defense vs. Syracuse’s transition game. Everybody is aware of Boeheim’s lethal 2-3 zone and what it takes to break it consistently during a 40-minute game. But ‘Cuse is practically impossible to stop if they can get their transition game going on offense. Without Fab Melo, they don’t have the low post presence to challenge teams effectively in a half court set, so they need some easy buckets in transition to maintain offensive momentum. Scoop Jardine is an experienced point guard but he can get frustrated at times if he is limited to half court sets only. Jardine’s turnover rate is 25%, which is not necessarily high but indicates a lack of composure during certain stretches of the game if he is forced to shoot jumpers. Wisconsin has the guards to match up with Boeheim’s versatile backcourt – Jardine, Brandon Triche and Dion Waiters. Nobody on SU shoots over 37% from the long-range, though, so if Bo Ryan’s crew forces them to settle for jumpers, they could be in trouble. Jardine doesn’t necessarily have the quickness to get around Jordan Taylor or Josh Gasser. Keep in mind the excellent job that Ryan’s guards did against John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor of Vanderbilt last weekend. Kris Joseph, a 6’7″ senior, can cause some matchup problems for Wisconsin but he relies heavily on the long-range shot as well – Joseph attempted 144 shots from beyond the arc and hit only 34.7% of them this year. Limit Syracuse from pushing the ball up the court and Bo Ryan’s crew might be onto something tonight. Read the rest of this entry »