Syracuse’s Great Season Comes to an End

The 2011-2012 edition of Syracuse Basketball will undoubtedly go down as one of the best ever.   The team finished 34-3 overall, including 17-1 in Big East play.  But that season ended last night with a 77-70 loss to Ohio State.

As good as the Syracuse-Wisconsin game was, last night’s game was a harder game to watch.  The referees decided to impact the outcome.  Ohio State star center Jared Sullinger was whistled for his second foul with 13 minutes remaining in the first half on a play where he, at most, breathed on Syracuse’s Dion Waiters.  Conversely, Syracuse had 12 fouls in the first half compared to Ohio State’s six.  And with 12 minutes to go in the second half, Syracuse had 3 players with 4 fouls.  The referees just did not let these two great teams play.

Still, Syracuse had its chances to win.  It squandered the first half–when Sullinger was on the bench.  It settled to contested jump shots, rather than driving to the void at the basket left by Sullinger’s absence.  Syracuse also missed several layups.  And then down the stretch, Seniors Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine had three consecutive turnovers to destroy any momentum.  A great season coming to a difficult end.

2012-2013 promises to be interesting for Syracuse.  There will be lots of questions.  Will Fab Melo come back?  Will Dion Waiters come back?  Who will replace Kris Joseph?  Who will replace Scoop Jardine?  Will Rakeem Christmas–who played better as a freshman than Fab Melo–make a similar leap in the off season?  The one thing that is likely is that a Jim Boeheim-coached team will find a way to keep Syracuse in the spotlight.

I guess one more question–will Syracuse officially be an ACC team for 2012-2013 or will it still be in the Big East?  These are interesting times.

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Elite Eight is Set–Two ACC Teams in the Mix

The Big Dance field has been whittled from 68 teams to 8.  The Atlantic Coast Conference can take pride in having two teams still in the mix.  #1 seeds Syracuse and North Carolina have made it to the Elite Eight.

Syracuse got to the Elite Eight by holding on to defeat Wisconsin, 64-63.  If you watched this game, you saw a classic.  Both teams executed their game plans very well.  Wisconsin controlled the tempo–holding Syracuse to fewer possessions than any game in the past 15 years.  Syracuse was able to force a handful of rare Wisconsin turnovers and convert them into points.  And, despite the slow tempo, this game was on pace to be very high scoring until the last five minutes.  That is because both teams were just blisteringly hot offensively.  Wisconsin hit 14 three-pointers (out of 27), including one stretch where they converted six in a row.  Syracuse shot 55% from the field.  Wisconsin had two shots to win it down the stretch, but came up short.  So, Syracuse now moves on to face #2 Ohio State.  While Ohio State plays a more upbeat tempo than Wisconsin (as does everyone), Ohio State also has more talent than anyone Syracuse has faced all year.  The key for the Orange will be to use their depth as an advantage and get the Buckeyes’ stars in foul trouble.

North Carolina got into the Elite Eight by holding on to defeat #13 seed Ohio, in overtime, 73-65.  North Carolina actually had a comfortable lead for parts of the first half–by as much as 15.  But credit the Bobcats–they did not give up.  Instead, Ohio took advantage of North Carolina lacking point guard Kendall Marshall and pressured the Tar Heels into 24 turnovers.  That is a recipe for disaster and allowed Ohio to climb right back into the game.  However, Ohio missed a chance to win the game in regulation.  Once it got into overtime, Ohio went scoreless from the field and the Tar Heels dominated.  Here is a notable stat–the Tar Heels outrebounded the Bobcats 55 to 27.  Tyler Zeller was the star, scoring 20 points and adding 23 rebounds.  North Carolina moves on to face #2 Kansas, who only narrowly defeated North Carolina State, 60-57.

So both teams get to have their #1 seeds challenged by the regional #2 seed.  And both teams are missing key players.  If either or both teams make the Final Four, they will definitely have earned it.

 

ACC Lacrosse Weekly Report 5, March 23, 2012

The ACC Lacross season is now one month old!

News/Rankings:

The Inside Lacrosse poll has Virginia #1, receiving 19 of the 22 first place votes.  Maryland is #7, Syracuse is #8, Duke is #11, and North Carolina is #14.

The USILA Coaches Poll also has Virginia #1, with all 12 first place votes.  Maryland is #6, Syracuse is #9, Duke is #10, and North Carolina is #15.

Recent Scores:

Saturday, March 10, 2012:

North Carolina 9, Princeton 8.  Details.

Loyola 13, Duke 8.  Details.

Maryland 17, Marist 4.  Details.

Virginia 9, Cornell 8 (OT).  Details.

Syracuse 9, St. John’s 8.  Details.

Monday, March 12, 2012:

Duke 11, Harvard 8.  Details.

Friday, March 16, 2012:

Duke 13, North Carolina 11.  Details.

Saturday, March 17, 2012:

Maryland 11, Villanova 5.  Details.

Virginia 11, Ohio State 9.  Details.

Johns Hopkins 11, Syracuse 7.  Details.

Sunday, March 18, 2012:

Duke 20, Dartmouth 9.  Details.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012:

North Carolina 13, Dartmouth 11.  Details.

Syracuse 10, Providence 6.  Details.

 

Upcoming Games:

Saturday, March 24, 2012:

Duke @ Georgetown, 12:00 p.m.

Maryland @ North Carolina, 12:00 p.m.

Johns Hopkins @ Virginia, 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 25, 2012:

Villanova @ Syracuse, 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012:

Brown @ Duke, 3:00 p.m.

 

Records:

Virginia 8-0 (0-0 in conference).

Maryland 5-1 (1-0 in conference)

Duke 6-3 (1-1 in conference)

North Carolina 6-3 (0-1 in conference)

Syracuse 4-2

The Confidential’s ACC Lacrosse Rankings:

1.  Virginia (8-0).  Virginia continues to dominate.

2.  Maryland (5-1).  Maryland still has the best conference record.  And second best overall record.

3.  Syracuse (4-2).  Syracuse’s two losses were to the #1 and #2 teams in the country, so they get a pass (for now).

4.  Duke (6-3).  Duke gets the edge with the head-to-head win.

5.  North Carolina (6-3).  See above.

 

If you have any comments on the ACC Lacrosse season or this entry, please feel free to share!

The Confidential’s Very Own Sweet Sixteen Rankings

Yesterday, the Confidential noted that the new rage was rating the Sweet 16 teams.  The pundits have had their chance.  Now it is time for the Confidential to share its rankings.

  1. KENTUCKY.  The best, healthiest team.  End of story.
  2. MICHIGAN STATE.  If they make the Final Four, they will deserve it… Louisville, Marquette, and Florida are all playing good basketball right now.
  3. OHIO STATE.  Got some luck when Syracuse lost Fab Melo.  Will they overlook in-state rival Cincinnati?  They better not.
  4. NORTH CAROLINA.  Ohio has been a nice story, but North Carolina missing one of its 5 future NBA players makes them merely a speed bump.
  5. KANSAS.  North Carolina State is playing some good basketball, but Kansas has more experienced talent.
  6. WISCONSIN.  Gets the perfect draw in Syracuse–a team that thrives on turnovers, which Wisconsin never does.
  7. SYRACUSE.  However, if Syracuse can force turnovers, Wisconsin will have to hit a lot of 3’s to win the game.
  8. MARQUETTE.  Playing outstanding basketball right now.
  9. BAYLOR.  Nice draw with Xavier–like Ohio, a run that is probably ready to come to an end.
  10. LOUISVILLE.  If anyone can challenge Tom Izzo as a coach, it is Rick Pitino.
  11. CINCINNATI.  This is the Bearcats time to shine.  Beat Ohio State and they will be in-state kings.
  12. FLORIDA.  Have played good against two overmatched teams.  Marquette posts a real test.
  13. INDIANA.  Not fully healthy.  And they face Kentucky.  And Kentucky is motivated for revenge.  It was fun while it lasted.
  14. NORTH CAROLINA STATE.  If everyone else has them at #14, so should the Confidential.
  15. XAVIER.  They can beat Baylor.  It just seems unlikely–the Bears are battle-tested.
  16. OHIO.  Great season, ending on a very high note.  Even a wounded North Carolina is a tough team to beat.

So there it is.  Criticize aways.

The Pundits Chime in on the ACC Sweet Sixteen Teams

The Sweet Sixteen is the major sporting event taking place right now.  Especially now that Peyton Manning has decided to try to replace Jesus Tim Tebow in Denver.  The pundits have much to say about the ACC teams’ chances at getting to the Elite Eight and beyond.

For some reason, the opinion-makers have decided to rank the 16 teams still alive.  ESPN’s Jason King has this to say about each team and its ranking:

4. North Carolina: Even with point guard Kendall Marshall less than 100 percent — or perhaps out altogether — it’d be foolish to ignore North Carolina’s size, experience and, most of all, talent. Post players Tyler Zeller, John Henson and James Michael McAdoo are all projected as lottery picks in the NBA draft. So, too, is small forward Harrison Barnes, who creates matchup problems for almost every opponent. North Carolina will have a hard time winning it all without Marshall at his best. But a Final Four certainly isn’t out of the question.

8. Syracuse: Thursday’s near-loss to No. 16 seed UNC Asheville created some serious concerns about the Orange’s ability to reach the Final Four without suspended center Fab Melo. Even though Syracuse bounced back with a convincing win over K-State — which was without Jamar Samuels — Syracuse doesn’t have the look of a Final Four team. Jim Boeheim’s squad hasn’t advanced past the Sweet 16 since 2003. I think it will break that trend this season and get to the Elite Eight.

14. North Carolina State: The team a lot of people think didn’t deserve to be in the tournament advanced to the Sweet 16 by defeating two higher seeds (San Diego State and Georgetown). Lorenzo Brown averaged 7.5 assists in the two wins, while C.J. Leslie contributed 14.5 points. This is a talented team with loads of length and athleticism. The Wolfpack could give Kansas trouble.

Matt Nortander of CBS as a different set of rankings:

4. Syracuse.  I have bailed a little bit but not that much. I had Syracuse in the Elite Eight before the Melo news and didn’t remove the Orange even after the sophomore center was deemed ineligible. Let us not forget how this is Jim Boeheim’s deepest team. And that Kris Joseph is now pretty incredibly underrated.

5. North Carolina.  Can’t put UNC in the top four if I don’t know if Kendall Marshall is playing. Marshall is motor oil for that offense. Stillman White is about to become the most well-known backup since Curtis Painter. Carolina has all that talent, but its offense is completely different without Marshall’s NBA-level court vision and passing ability. I don’t think the Tar Heels can win the tournament if he’s out for the rest of it. Fortunately, UNC gets a break with Ohio in its regional semi.

14. North Carolina State.  I love the upsets no one calls. The ones that aren’t even incredibly shocking but still camouflaged in the bracket like a lioness in dying beige African vegetation. N.C. State in the Sweet 16 was not one of those upsets. Many people had the Wolfpack getting past San Diego State, and a large subset of those people went a step further and put Mark Gottfried’s team into the regional semifinals. State fans have waited a long time for this. And now they’ll demand it every year, lest they fire another coach who can’t make it happen. Unreasonable expectations! Yes!

Apparently, the consensus is that North Carolina State has little chance of making the Final Four.   George Mason, Butler, and Virginia Commonwealth should provide North Carolina State all the encouragement it needs when it takes on Kansas in its Sweet Sixteen game.

Other Post-Season Games

While everyone awaits the Sweet 16 matchups on Thursday and Friday, there are two other ACC teams in post-season action: Miami and Pittsburgh.  Unfortunately, one of those two teams had its season end last night.

Miami’s season came to an end with a 78-60 loss to Minnesota in the NIT.  As Miami was the #2 seed and playing at home, while Minnesota was a #6 seed, this was an upset.  A convincing upset.  Minnesota jumped out quickly, taking a 12-point advantage over Miami into halftime.  The Hurricanes never recovered.  The team shot 34.4% from the field for the game, including 16.6% from three-point range.  Minnesota finished the game with a 37-19 rebounding edge.  Dion Brown led Miami with 16 points.  The Hurricanes finish the season 20-13.

In the College Basketball Invitational, Pittsburgh defended its home court by defeating Princeton, 82-61.  Pitt jumped out to a 49-25 halftime lead.  For the game, Pitt held Princeton to just 41.1% shooting.  Several Panthers finished in double-figures in scoring:

  • Lamar Patterson, 19 points
  • Tray Woodall, 15 points
  • Nasir Robinson, 12 points
  • Talib Zanna, 11 points
  • Ashton Gibbs, 10 points

With an offensive performance like that, Princeton was no match for Pitt.  Princeton was also outrebounded 37-26.  All in all it was a vintage Pittsburgh performance.  With the win, the Panthers improve to 19-16 on the season.  They will face Butler in the semifinals on Wednesday.

The ACC and the Post-Season: Update 5

Sunday featured three ACC teams trying to make it to the Sweet Sixteen.  Unfortunately, only two of them made it.  And, for one, it was a bittersweet victory.

The first game of the day was a success as #11 North Carolina State upset #3 Georgetown, 66-63.   C.J. Williams, Scott Wood and C.J. Leslie each scored 14 points to lead North Carolina State into the Sweet Sixteen.  Lorenzo Brown had a nice game too, with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 key free throws down the stretch.  North Carolina State will play @2 seed Kansas.

The second game of the day was a bittersweet result for North Carolina.  The #1 seed Tar Heels had little trouble defeating #8 Creighton, 87-73.  John Henson returned from injury with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.  But North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall broke a wrist–putting him in jeopardy for future games.  Marshall scored 18 points and dished out 11 assists.  And 3 other Tar Heels scored in double-digits too.  Creighton was held to 41.2% shooting and rebounded by 9.  All in all, a very solid effort for the Tar Heels.  Next up is the #13 seed Ohio, who defeated #12 South Florida.

The final game of the day featured #3 Florida State and #6 seed Cincinnati.  Unfortunately, Cincinnati defeated Florida State 62-56, ending the Seminoles season.  Poor shooting plagued Florida State as they hit only 38% of its attempts from the floor.  In addition, Florida State committed 17 turnovers.  Luke Loucks led the Seminoles with 14 points.  Michael Snaer was only 3 for 9 from three-point range, but rebounded from his scoreless opening round game to add 11 points.

After today’s results, the ACC is down to North Carolina, and North Carolina State, as well as Syracuse.