The 2013 NCAA tournament is winding to a close, so all eyes will be on the Syracuse Orange when they take on the Michigan Wolverines in the Final Four this coming Saturday.
If ‘Cuse is going to make it back to the national title game for the first time since 2003, some players are going to need to step up and perform more than others.
Let’s take a look at three guys who will be absolutely instrumental to this team’s success against the Wolverines in Atlanta.
This superstar point guard has put together his best stretch of basketball during the tournament, helping lead the Orange to four straight victories with his facilitating and defensive abilities.
At 6’6”, Carter-Williams is a nightmare matchup for most point guards, especially at the top of ‘Cuse’s stifling 2-3 zone. He’s going to see plenty of Trey Burke in the Final Four, Michigan’s elite point guard with unlimited range and flashy handles.
If he’s able to hold his 6’0” counterpart to a low number of points and limit his penetration into the teeth of the defense, there’s a good chance the Orange wind up on top.
On the other side of the floor, expect MCW to look to set up teammates in good position to score, especially this next guy—who can be quite deadly when given an open look.
Southerland, a senior forward, is a marksman who can hit accurately from anywhere on the floor. He’s greatly improved his shooting ability over his four years with the program, rising from a 29.2 percent long-range shooter as a freshman to his current average of 40.3 percent during the 2012-13 campaign.
If he’s able to get it going from deep, Michigan will have a tough time scoring enough points to top ‘Cuse in this matchup.
Against Marquette in the Elite Eight, the Bayside, New York product launched up nine threes and connected on three, and he chipped in another seven points from the field and charity stripe.
At 6’8”, Southerland has the length to shoot over anyone on the Wolverines roster and presents a matchup nightmare for the opposing forwards. Expect coach Jim Boeheim to try and exploit the mismatches and get some good looks for this young man.
One of the main reasons for Syracuse’s success is the fact that opponents are shooting 29 percent on field goals against them during the tournament. Another reason is that the Orange have been dominant on the glass.
The only team to win the rebounding battle against ‘Cuse was Marquette, but the Golden Eagles committed too many turnovers and shot so poorly that they never had a chance.
Fair has been a big contributor to those low percentages and rebounding totals for the opposition, as the 6’8” forward is a beast on the inside and battling for boards but is also quick and athletic enough to get out and contest jump shots.
He’s a perfect player in the 2-3 zone and does all the little things to lead his team to victory.
If Fair, a junior leader for this program, can put together one more great performance, ‘Cuse will be dancing into the national title game.