Tipoff Countdown: How far will Syracuse go in the NCAA tournament?

During the season, The Juice Online will tackle a burning question about the Syracuse basketball team in “Tipoff Countdown.”

Today’s topic: Syracuse will start the NCAA tournament as a No. 4 seed in the East region. How far will they go in the tourney? Saugat Sen gives his take on how it will turn out.

Will the team stay hot? Will Southerland continue to rain down the 3s? Will Keita ever miss another free throw?

All good questions, and the answers may determine how far Syracuse goes in the East Region. Seth Davis picked Montana to beat the Orange in the first round.

Not so fast.

» Related: Scouting the Montana Grizzlies

Montana shoots very well from the field (47%) and from beyond the arc (38%), but they are also missing leading scorer and senior leader Mathias Ward, out for the year with a foot injury. And let’s not mention rebounding, where they’re 309th in the NCAA. I predict Boeheim adjusts by extending the zone to get out on the shooters and the Orange dominate this one.

UNLV runs past California without a problem. Cal has the worst RPI (53) of any at-large team and they come in after back-to-back losses. So it’s Syracuse v. UNLV in the third round.

This is going to be tough for the Orange. Anthony Bennett is a projected lottery pick and he can do it all. He leads the Rebels in scoring, rebounding and blocks per game. He will stress the defense similar to what Otto Porter did in the game at the Dome.

This one will come down to the wire, but Baye Keita will nail two late free throws to put the game out of reach.

» Related: Syracuse will start as a No. 4 seed in the East

The Orange move on to the friendly confines of the Verizon Center in Washington, DC with a pro-Syracuse crowd.

MCW has a lights-out night, but it will still not be enough. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are too much of a force to handle. Even if Keita and Christmas can put a body on Zeller, there is no response for Oladipo’s athleticism.

Syracuse goes down to No. 1 Indiana and ends its 2013 season at the Sweet Sixteen.

Those are our predictions of how things will go for Syracuse. What do you think? Voice your opinions below or Tweet us your opinions!

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