Syracuse Basketball: 3 Indiana Flaws Orange Need to Expose to Win Sweet 16 Game
The Syracuse Orange have advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and now have the pleasure of matching up with one of the best teams in the country, the Indiana Hoosiers. Despite spending a large portion of the season being ranked No.1, the Hoosiers can be beat.
Indiana is a solid team from top to bottom that gets production from both its backcourt and frontcourt. The Hoosiers rank near the top in several categories, including points per game and field-goal percentage.
Syracuse has had an up-and-down year. The Orange were ranked as high as No.3 before losing seven of their final 12 regular season games. However, they have looked solid through the first two rounds of the tournament, knocking off both Montana and California.
The upcoming game with the Hoosiers is going to be tough. However, there are a few weak areas that can be exposed en route to an upset victory.
Indiana v Syracuse: Sweet 16 Preview
Indiana ranks 140th in the nation in turnovers per game, committing 12.9 per contest. That's a flaw that Syracuse will have to take advantage of if it has any chance of pulling off the upset.
The Orange rank 23rd in the nation in turnover margin and have forced 575 turnovers from their opponents. In the first two games of the NCAA tournament, 'Cuse has caused a total of 34 turnovers.
The Hoosiers gave the ball away 12 times in their round of 32 matchup with the Temple Owls.
Ironically, Indiana's two stars, forward Cody Zeller and guard Victor Oladipo, both average 2.3 turnovers per game, the highest on the team. Zeller committed six in the victory over the Owls.
Turnovers can quickly even a game, especially in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse needs to play its tough defense and force Indiana into costly mistakes.
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Getting into foul trouble can turn a game in a hurry. If one or two starters are forced to the bench, that's an advantage to the opponents. The Hoosiers rank 81st in the nation with 16.6 personal fouls a game. While it's not terrible, it's a minor flaw that could be exploited.
Victor Oladipo racked up fouls and saw his playing minutes decrease in two of Indiana's six losses this season.
In the January 15 loss to Wisconsin, he did manage 10 points, but committed four fouls and played just 28 minutes. Against Ohio State on March 5, he actually fouled out and scored just seven points in 25 minutes.
Big man Cody Zeller has also gotten into foul trouble this year in losses. On February 26 at Minnesota, he ended up fouling out after scoring just nine points.
In the Sweet 16 matchup, Syracuse will need to drive the ball inside and try to get fouls called on the Hoosiers.
Though the Orange are only ranked 234th in the nation at converting from the foul line, anytime guys like Zeller and Oladipo are not on the floor it makes matching up with Indiana that much easier.
Out-Rebounded in Losses
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While Indiana's overall rebounding statistics are solid, ranked 24th in the nation at 38.6 boards a game, the team has struggled on the glass in its losses.
The Hoosiers were out-rebounded in four of their six losses.
Since Indiana plays a smaller lineup with three guards, Syracuse will have a slight edge on the glass entering the game. The Orange rank 20th in the nation in rebounding, led by C.J. Fair who pulls down 7.1 boards a game.
Syracuse has great size down low, with six guys measuring 6'8" or taller. Not to mention point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who comes in at 6'6". He pulled down eight boards in the Orange's first tournament game against Montana.
The Orange pulled down 75 rebounds in their first two tournament games and will look to continue that dominance against the Hoosiers on Thursday night.