Syracuse Orange Blueprint to Beat Michigan Wolverines in 2013 Final Four
Syracuse is two wins away from securing Jim Boeheim's second national championship. The Orange lost seven of their final 12 regular-season games, and few thought this team would last long in the NCAA tourney.
Syracuse rebounded to reach the Big East tournament title game and now prepares to face Michigan in the Final Four on Saturday evening in Atlanta. The Orange eliminated another Big Ten power, Indiana, in the Sweet 16.
Each team stumbled during the final dozen games of the regular season. Syracuse finished 5-7, while Michigan completed the last stretch of the regular season 6-6.
The Wolverines haven't backed down from an arduous road to the Final Four. Michigan defeated No. 1-seeded Kansas in the Sweet 16 and pummeled third-seeded Florida in Elite Eight action.
As the pair of evenly matched programs prepare to meet, here's a look at a few key opportunities for the Orange to advance to another national championship game.
Swarm Michigan with Another Strong Defensive Effort
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The Orange are limiting foes to 29 percent shooting from the floor. Indiana, one of the nation's most explosive offensive attacks, managed just 50 points on 33 percent shooting in their Sweet 16 matchup.
In the Elite Eight, Syracuse embarrassed Big East foe Marquette in dominant fashion. The Orange limited the Golden Eagles to 39 points on 12 field goals.
How Syracuse handles Michigan's backcourt tandem of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. could ultimately determine the winner. The Orange have made life miserable for guards in the postseason.
Don't Allow Michigan Freshman Mitch McGary to Maintain Momentum
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Michigan's starting big man is finding his groove in March Madness. The freshman is averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in the tournament. The 6'10" forward has been a dangerous post presence for the Wolverines.
Against Florida in the Elite Eight, he tallied nine rebounds, five steals and two blocks. Expect to see plenty of more looks for the Michigan big man tonight; he has been a tour de force in the tournament.
It's been smooth sailing for the freshman so far. Syracuse must find a way to rattle McGary early in order to disrupt his rhthym.
Trust in Michael Carter-Williams
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Between his late-game heroics to offensive prowess, Carter-Williams has to be considered one of the naton's best guard prospects. He has the ability to work opponents off the dribble, drain pivotal three-pointers and is a relentless player.
Carter-Williams scored 24 points against Indiana, proving he can carry a substantial Syracuse offensive load. So far in the tournament, he has made 19 of his 39 field goals, well above his 40 percent average.
He finished the season ranked among the game's top assists and steals leaders. Carter-Williams is quickly becoming a household name a strong performance against Michigan would make him the first player since Carmelo Anthony to lead the Orange into a title game.
Keep Trey Burke in Check
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Trey Burke is superstar. There's not longer any doubt about that distinction.
The Big Ten Player of the Year has taken the tournament by storm. His game-tying shot against Kansas in the final seconds of a of a wild Sweet 16 matchup is already cemented as a legendary moment in program history.
Burke, a sophomore, is averaging 19 points per game durings the past three Wolverines victories. He is the face of Michigan's most successful season since the "Fab Five" last played 20 years ago.
For Syracuse to win this game, they'll have to stop Burke from playing like Superman. The Orange's length along the perimeter could provide problems for the six-foot Wolverines leader.