Syracuse will face Indiana in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Washington, DC. Here is a preview of the game:
ZONE BUSTER?: Though Indiana doesn’t have a familiarity with the Syracuse 2-3 zone, head coach Tom Crean does. Crean coached at Marquette during their transition into the Big East, and saw the vaunted zone in conference play. Syracuse won both matchups against Crean’s Golden Eagles, but there’s a big difference between Crean’s Marquette teams and his current Indiana Hoosiers team. “At Marquette we didn’t necessarily have the ability to score in the low post that maybe we have now,” Crean said during the NCAA media session on Wednesday afternoon. That’s certainly true, as the Hoosiers feature one of the premier big men in college basketball, Cody Zeller. The versatile big man is an excellent passer and low post player, and is unlike any player Crean had during his time at Marquette. “They obviously play the zone defense that we haven’t seen as much this year,” Zeller said. “I don’t know if there is one team or players to make the comparison to, but we definitely got our work cut out for us.”
SCOUTING THE HOOSIERS: Besides the aforementioned Zeller (who leads the team with 16.7 ppg and 8.0 rpg), Victor Oladipo is one of the elite guards in the country who is an elite defender (Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year), an excellent finisher (13.6 ppg, second on the team) and a polished shooter (a 44 percent 3-point shooter). Indiana has plenty of threats from downtown (Oladipo, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls just to name a few), and shoot 40.8 percent as a team. Will Sheehey was also named Big 10 Sixth Man of the Year.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Syracuse has a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series, including in their last meeting, a 76-63 win over Indiana in the Maui Classic in 1998. But the two teams will be forever linked by the 1987 national championship game, where a Keith Smart buzzer-beater lifted the Hoosiers to a 74-73 win. Reflecting on that game, Boeheim poked a little fun at his adversary, Bob Knight. “You never get over games like that,” Boeheim said. “Indiana was a big, big favorite in that game. I thought we played as well as we could play and we certainly had a lot of opportunities to win the game […] I got over it in 2003. That’s when I really — I probably thought about it for those 26 years most of the time. I never think about it anymore. Coach Knight was good after the game. He told me we would get back and win it, he just didn’t tell me it would take 26 years. He’s smart, just not that smart.”
GAME INFORMATION: Thursday, March 28 at 9:45 p.m. in the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. TV: CBS.