Notre Dame vs. Syracuse: Why the Orange Should Be on Upset Alert
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Syracuse has taken a step back recently, losing its last two games against Villanova and Pittsburgh.
The Fighting Irish have won three games in a row and are on fire heading into the conference matchup in the Carrier Dome.
As a team, the Fighting Irish possess the elements to dominate the Syracuse 2-3 zone.
The first way to beat the zone is to move the ball around. The Irish are the No. 4 passing team in the country, dishing out 18.0 assists per game.
The two facilitators on offense for Notre Dame are junior guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant. Atkins averages 6.2 assists per game, and Grant dishes out 5.6 assists per game. They rank No. 3 and No. 5 in the conference respectively.
With two legitimate options to find an open man, Notre Dame can make the notorious Syracuse zone look straight-up silly.
The best way to find an open shot in the 2-3 zone is by using quick, sharp passes to find an open shooter.
That leads to the second part. Once you find those shots, it is imperative to knock them down. There will be very few chances to rebound against Syracuse, the nation’s No. 10 rebounding team.
Luckily for Notre Dame, the Irish have made close to half of their shots from the floor this season. They have posted a 49.3 shooting percentage, ranking them at No. 9 in the country.
They knock down the deep ball regularly as well, shooting a conference-best 39.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Irish senior forward Jack Cooley, who leads the Big East in rebounding, will have a field day in the post.
Cooley averages 15.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Not only does he crash the boards hard, but he knows what to do with the basketball, as he’s shooting 58.8 percent from the floor.
The 2-3 zone can be difficult down low for opposing big men, with three men collapsing on the paint, but don’t forget about Notre Dame’s plethora of shooters and three-point shooting capability.
Sixth-year guard Scott Martin is No. 2 in the conference in three-point shooting, hitting 46.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Atkins comes in shooting 44.4 percent from three-point range, which makes him the fifth-best three-point shooter in the conference.
Notre Dame has the matchup advantages needed to take care of Syracuse. It’ll all just be a matter of execution in the Carrier Dome.
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