Friday, March 22, 2013

An Easy First Round Win

The Syracuse Orange played with intensity in their first round game, and they caught an underdog flatfooted resulting in one of the most lopsided NCAA games in SU history.

Syracuse beat the Grizzlies 81-34, a 47 point margin of victory that at one point was 50 points.  Coach Jim Boeheim had senior walk-on Matt Lyde-Cajuste on the court for the last 6 minutes of the game, and that really did not make a difference.

Syracuse held the Grizzlies to 20% shooting from the field (11-54) and 12.9% shooting from three point range (4 of 31).  No Montana player scored more than 5 points in the game. Syracuse was confident offensively, hitting 52% of their shots (27 of 52) and 45% of their three point efforts (5 of 11).  They had an impressive 21 assists on their 27 made field goals, and only 8 turnovers.  There were some sloppy unforced moments by Syracuse, but that did not matter.

Syracuse’s defense was tough, but psychology played into this margin of victory too. Even when Montana did have the open shot, they missed it bad.

This statistically, by far, the best defensive effort the Orange have ever had in the NCAA tournament.  Previously the lowest point total for an opponent was 43 points, by Princeton in a 51-43 win in 1992. That was more a result of Princeton’s slow down offense, than Syracuse’s defense.

Six previous times in the NCAA Tournament the Orange have beaten an opponent by 20+ points. The largest margin of victory was on March 16, 1986 when the Orangemen and Pearl Washington crushed Brown 101-52, a 49 point margin of victory. 

In 2010, the Orange beat Vermont 79-56 in the first round, and Gonzaga 87-65 in the second round. That is the only tournament the Orange beat two teams by 20+ points, and also the last time they had done so before last night.

The Orange love playing Montana teams. In 1996, John Wallace and the Orangemen beat Montana State 88-55 in the first round.

Syracuse easily handled Coppin State in 1990 with a 70-48 victory, and Bucknell in 1989 with a 104-81 victory.

The games do not necessarily carry over to the next effort.  The 1986 effort, for example, was followed by the upset loss to David Robinson and Navy.  The 1996 victory, however, foreshadowed Syracuse’s run to the Championship game against Kentucky. 

That’s why this tournament is called March Madness. Anything can happen.

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