When Syracuse takes on Kansas State on CBS on Saturday, the Orange will be going into the game with the assumptions that this game is as evenly matched a game as we will find in the third round.
The Orange came off a scare against UNC-Asheville on Thursday, already reeling from the loss of Fab Melo to academic ineligibility. The team is clearly not right without their big man, as their defense was severely lacking against a UNC-Asheville team that could shoot the ball from distance on Thursday.
Of course, any game without Melo on the court for the Orange is a game in which Syracuse is going to have the disadvantage, and the matchup with K-State on Saturday is a great example.
The way Kansas State is playing right now, a game with Melo in it may even be a close game. The Wildacts have received great play from guard Rodney McGruder and the rest of their guards, who matchup very against Syracuse.
The Wildcats also matchup very well with the Orange inside the paint and without Melo K-State may even have the advantage, because Syracuse has little answers for 6'11" Jordan Henriquez down low.
For Syracuse to avoid the upset, Kris Joseph will need to step up and be the go to player Jim Boheim needs him to be. Joseph had just 12 points against UNC-Asheville, going 0-5 from the behind the arc, which was a major reason why the Orange had such a hard time.
Surprisingly, the Orange had a difficult time guarding the UNC-Asheville guards, with J.P. Primm leading the way with 18 points. McGruder will pose a much bigger test to the Syracuse defense on Saturday.
The Orange have not seemed right since losing Melo for the NCAA Tournament. Any lack of intensity from Syracuse inside will be a big problem for this team against the Wildcats, a team that matches up very well with them in nearly every facet of this game.