Syracuse Basketball: Players Orange Must Contain to Defeat Michigan

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Syracuse Basketball: Players Orange Must Contain to Defeat Michigan
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Final Four matchup between Michigan and Syracuse pits one of the nation's most electric offenses against one of its best defenses.

How Michigan handles Syracuse's 2-3 zone is one of the most interesting storylines in the Final Four. Beyond that, two of the nation's best point guards—Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams and Michigan's Trey Burke—highlight the battle.

Here's a look at the Wolverines the Orange must contain at the Georgia Dome to advance to the national championship game.

All stats via ESPN.com and TeamRankings.com.


Trey Burke, PG

Obviously, everything starts for Michigan with Trey Burke. He's a big-time playmaker who can get in a groove offensively and penetrate the lane to open his teammates up for shots.

The Wooden Award winner is averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 assists this season while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 38 percent from beyond the arc. He hasn't shot well in the NCAA tournament (22-of-63), but he's made some big shots when it's counted, including the three-pointer that sent the Sweet 16 game against Kansas into overtime. 

There's also the fact that Burke has posted a combined 31 assists in four NCAA tournament games. He's making it easier for all of his teammates to get good looks at the basket.

Carter-Williams and Co. will have its hands full against the athletic sophomore.

 

Tim Hardaway Jr., G

The son of the five-time NBA All-Star, Tim Hardaway Jr. is averaging 14.6 points on 45 percent shooting this season. He's also shooting 39 percent from downtown.

Hardaway has gone a combined 7-of-24 from the field in his past two games, but he went a combined 13-of-24 against South Dakota State and VCU in the Wolverines' first two games in the tournament. He's a streaky shooter who can get hot.

The junior's ability to knock it down from beyond the arc is especially important, given Burke's ability to draw the defense in.

 

Mitch McGary, F

If you would have told me before the NCAA tournament that Mitch McGary would be a player opponents should fear, I probably would have thought you were an overzealous Michigan fan.

There was no denying that the No. 28 recruit in the 2012 class had immense talent. Still, the fact that he's exploded like this with only six starts to his name is amazing. Some actually think he could be a first-round pick in the NBA draft if he declares after this season (myself included). 

In the NCAA tournament, the 6'10", 250-pound freshman forward has averaged 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.8 steals and one block. That includes a phenomenal game against NBA prospect Jeff Withey and Kansas, when he racked up 25 points, 14 rebounds and three steals in the 87-85 overtime victory.

Not only does Syracuse need to watch out for McGary's offensive ability, he adds a completely different dimension to Michigan on the glass. He had five offensive rebounds against Kansas.

 

Nik Stauskas, G

Trey Burke's ability to penetrate the lane is even more dangerous for opponents when you factor in Michigan has three-point shooters like Hardaway and Nik Stauskas.

Stauskas is Michigan's best three-point shooter, knocking down 45 percent of his three-point shots this season. He's also coming off a huge game against Florida in the Elite Eight. In that game, he scored 22 points while going 7-of-8 from the floor and a perfect 6-of-6 from downtown.

One thing's for sure: If you leave this kid open from beyond the arc, he's going to make you pay.

Oh yeah, and he hit 102 three-pointers in five minutes at his home when he was in high school. That is not a misprint, folks.

 

Glenn Robinson III, F

Glenn Robinson III is still young and his game is raw right now, but, boy, when the freshman forward turns it on, watch out.

Robinson has certainly stepped it up in the NCAA tournament, shooting a combined 23-of-37 from the field, notching seven steals and grabbing 25 rebounds.

With so many many weapons on offense, it's no wonder why many believe Michigan will test Syracuse's vaunted defense.

 

Don't forget to print out your bracket and follow along with the live bracketFollow all the exciting NCAA tournament action with March Madness Live.


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