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Syracuse Basketball: Offensive Keys to Beating Michigan in Final Four

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16:  Michael Carter-Williams #1 of the Syracuse Orange huddles with his teammates against the Louisville Cardinals during the final of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 16, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2013

While most of the focus leading into the Final Four has been about Michigan's offense against Syracuse's defense, the other end of the court will be just as exciting.

Obviously, most people are dying to see how Trey Burke and a number of great shooters fare against the 2-3 zone of the Orange. However, the Wolverines have struggled at times this season when they do not focus on defense.

Syracuse can beat the Wolverines with a big offensive performance if the team focuses on these keys.


Turn Missed Shots Into Fast Breaks

It remains to be seen whether a team that hardly ever turns the ball over will start giving it away against the 2-3 zone. But either way, Michigan will shoot a lot of threes.

The Wolverines averaged 20 attempts from behind the arc per game during the regular season, and that is unlikely to stop as the team tries to shoot over the zone. 

While these are very good shooters, no one is perfect. Michigan is likely to miss some long shots, which turn into long rebounds. Syracuse has to take advantage of these misses to quickly push the action to the other end of the court.

The Orange are among the best in the country at transitioning from defense to offense, and that must continue against a very quick team like Michigan.


Pound the Offensive Glass

Even with the recent emergence of Mitch McGary, Michigan is not a great rebounding team. The team generally lacks size, with the 6'6" Glenn Robinson III often being the second-biggest player on the floor.

Meanwhile, with Baye Keita and Rakeem Christmans, Syracuse has good size up front. James Southerland also helps out on the glass when he decides to travel inside of the three-point arc.

This has helped the team finish the regular season tied for fifth in the nation with an average of 14.5 offensive rebounds per game.

Against Michigan, the Orange have to be even more aggressive than usual. If the shots are not falling, they have to get second-chance points with easy putbacks. Otherwise, it will be tough to keep up with Michigan on the scoreboard.


Michael Carter-Williams Must Go Inside

At 6'6", Michael Carter-Williams has a size advantage over virtually any point guard in the country. He uses his height to not only get into the lane, but to finish strongly at the rim.

Unfortunately, he also wastes possessions by shooting three-point shots, where he is shooting only 29.7 percent for the season.

The good news is that he seems to be learning from his mistakes. Instead of forcing shots, he is only taking three-point attempts when he is wide open. This has led to him making four of his eight attempts in the NCAA tournament.

Carter-Williams needs to keep up this mindset for Syracuse to be successful. He has great value down low against whoever attempts to guard him, but he helps out the opponent by forcing contested jump shots. 

However, the Orange will be in good shape if the point guard plays to his strength. 


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