On Thursday, the Syracuse Orange survived a scare. As expected, the Wisconsin Badgers weren't a great matchup. What they lack in physical talent, they make up for in outside shooting, offensive rebounding and avoiding turnovers. They did all of those things well against the Orange -- especially outside shooting -- but fell short by one point. After surviving that matchup nightmare, Jim Boeheim has to feel like his team can win the national title, even without Fab Melo.
When they meet the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Elite Eight, Syracuse will face a less extreme, but more talented version of what Wisconsin brings to the table. Ohio State isn't quite as reliant on the three and they're not quite as careful with the ball, but they're a very good outside shooting team, and they don't turn the ball over frequently. Syracuse and its 2-3 zone will have to be more focused on stopping the ball from getting inside than they were against Wisconsin. This should open up more shooting lanes, so even if Ohio State isn't absolutely unconscious from behind the arc like the Badgers were, they should still be able to hurt Syracuse from outside.
Even without Fab Melo, Syracuse has the size to deal with Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas where Cincinnati did not, but both of them will be difficult to be handle on the glass. The Orange might be able to keep them from creating quality first chance shots, but Thomas and Sullinger will be all over the offensive glass.
Ohio State doesn't necessarily have the chops to stop Syracuse on the other end, however. Even against great defensive teams, Syracuse is tough to stop from scoring when it gets hot. Aaron Craft has a reputation as one of the best perimeter defenders in the country, and he will have to live up to that reputation on Saturday. Ohio State should be able to create open threes and win battles on the offensive glass, but it's questionable whether or not the Buckeyes will do those things frequently enough to keep pace with the Orange.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, March 24, 7:05 p.m. ET
Venue: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
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