Syracuse vs. Marquette: 5 Keys for Orange to Prevail in Elite Eight Showdown

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Syracuse vs. Marquette: 5 Keys for Orange to Prevail in Elite Eight Showdown
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is still alive after defeating the No. 1 seed Indiana Hoosiers 61-50 to advance to the Elite Eight.

The Orange will face off against one of their conference foes, the Marquette Golden Eagles, at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

Also alive, by the way, is The Fight Doctor Ferdie Pacheco, who was erroneously declared dead by game announcer Verne Lundquist while Syracuse’s Baye Keita was having a cut tended to. As someone who speaks with Dr. Pacheco with regularity, I can assure you he is alive and kicking.

The Hoosiers, however, have flatlined.

Syracuse’s suffocating 2-3 zone defense caused problems the entire night for the Hoosiers, who spent the game turning the ball over and getting their shots blocked a combined 28 times. Indiana stars Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo were prevented from gaining any kind of momentum as Syracuse imposed its will on the frustrated Hoosiers.

Most of the frustration was the result of the Hoosiers' unfamiliarity with the Syracuse zone.

Marquette will not have that problem.

On February 25, the Golden Eagles were highly efficient against the Syracuse zone and handed the Orange a 74-71 loss.

Marquette was able to find openings in the lane and the baseline and had more attempts than Syracuse from the free-throw line (35 to seven, respectively), making 29 to Syracuse’s five.

Marquette’s Davonte Gardner was the star of the show with 26 points on 7-of-7 shooting and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line. Gardner also gathered eight rebounds.

That game was played at Marquette, which is one of the toughest places to play in America. Saturday’s game will be at the equally ominous home of the Georgetown Hoyas, but with the Hoyas being ousted from the tournament, Syracuse is actually enjoying playing there.

To reach their first Final Four since their championship run in 2003, the Orange cannot afford to play the same type game they played in February.

Here are five keys to the Orange advancing to the Final Four.

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