NCAA Tournament 2010: 10 Teams Syracuse Does/Does Not Want to Face
Entering the Big East Tournament, Syracuse has shown the ability to beat nearly any kind of team (except teams dressed in red with Rick Pitino at the helm).
Though the Orange has knocked off teams that shoot the long ball well (Cornell), the crash the glass bunch (West Virginia), the run-and-gun (Villanova), and practically ever other kind of style out there, the 'Cuse have looked better or worse against some of those styles.
This slideshow will focus on two teams the 'Cuse could face in the second through final round of the tournament. These two teams will be a team Orange faithful should be salivating over facing and another they should fear with their lives.
Round of 32 Team SU Should Want: Florida State
Florida State is long, athletic, and plays a ton of defense. Those attributes could give Syracuse many problems but shouldn't be enough to beat the 'Cuse.
The offensive woes that have plagued Leonard Hamilton's club all season would severely hamper the Seminoles' attempt to knock off the Orange. Florida State turns the ball over at an alarming rate (24.5 percent of all offensive possessions).
Florida State likes to slow the tempo down, but if the Seminoles turn the ball over in bunches against a Syracuse 2-3 zone, which is forcing an above average number of turnovers for the first time in several years, then the 'Cuse will be able to speed up the tempo and score in transition.
Florida State also doesn't have the ball-handler needed to penetrate the zone and deliver passes to the post or kick-outs for open shots before the zone rotates. Also, FSU is a below-average three-point shooting squad and doesn't have an array of shooters to overload the zone.
Round of 32 Team SU Should Fear: Northern Iowa
After winning the Missouri Valley Conference, Northern Iowa will likely be seeded somewhere between six and eight, which means the 'Cuse could get the Panthers in the second round.
If that's the case, the Orange should be worried. SU struggles to score in a half-court game because no one player has yet to step up as a go-to guy. Northern Iowa will at no point allow Syracuse to speed the game up and score easily in transition.
The Panthers are also used to going 20 to 30 seconds into the shot clock to get their own shot, so being patient against the Syracuse 2-3 zone to get a good look won't be a problem.
Sweet 16 Team SU Should Want: Butler
Like last season, Butler has struggled to score against teams more athletic and longer than the Bulldogs.
Butler can put points on the board with ease against its Horizon League foes, but scoring against the Syracuse zone is a different beast.
Butler doesn't shoot the ball well from three and relies on being solid from two to score efficiently. Without a strong post presence, it isn't likely that Butler will have that same success from inside the arc.
On the defensive end, Butler is no way built to stop the Orange's offensive attack.
Matt Howard is perpetually in foul trouble because Butler doesn't have big bodies to contain larger squads. Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson should dominate the post and keep Howard off the floor because of foul trouble.
Sweet 16 Team SU Should Fear: Wisconsin
In basic terms, Wisconsin is Northern Iowa on steroids. The Badgers' flex offense takes its time to operate and should give the Orange's zone fits. Wisconsin rarely turns it over, meaning the 'Cuse won't be able to operate in transition.
The Badgers also don't commit any bodies to the offensive glass, as the guards routinely rotate back to defense. That will limit the Orange in transition and cut down on its ability to throw remarkably long outlet passes.
Wisconsin's half-court defense is good, but for the Orange, its scoring problems against the Badgers will largely come from not being able to score in transition.
Elite Eight Team SU Should Want: Purdue
Even without Robbie Hummel, there's a shot Purdue can reach the Sweet 16 and depending on the matchup, squeak into the Elite Eight. If Purdue gets there, it will be a sitting duck if the Boilermakers draw the Orange.
Yes, not having Robbie Hummel puts Purdue at a distinct disadvantage, but even without Hummel, Purdue would be in big trouble against the 'Cuse.
Purdue just doesn't score the ball well and would need to actually hit a few three balls. With Hummel, that might be a possibility, but without him, Purdue would undoubtedly struggle to even hit the 50-point mark.
The Boilermakers' defense is very good but would struggle to put the necessary bodies on the Orange's bigs. Plus Purdue would struggle to contain Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins. Chris Kramer can only guard one guy, and the guy he doesn't guard could have a field day.
Elite Eight Team SU Should Fear: Baylor
Baylor is freakishly athletic and long, plays a 2-3 zone, and scores at will. That doesn't bode well for a Syracuse team that has struggled when opposing teams try to zone the Orange out.
The Bears have two 6'10" forwards and a seven-foot center on the starting line and bring another 6'7" beast, Quincy Acy, off the bench. The Orange thrives in the paint but could be severely hampered by this incredible length.
Baylor also has the tools to light the Orange zone up. With multiple players that can knock down the outside shot, including the electric guard combo of LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, Baylor could torch the 'Cuse.
Ekpe Udoh, Acy, and Anthony Jones can all hit the mid-range jumper from the free throw line, which is a popular hole in the 2-3 zone.
Final Four Team SU Should Want: Kansas State
Kansas State is pretty good on both sides of the basketball but is not outstanding in either facet of the game, nor do the Wildcats match up well against the Orange.
KSU is a strong offensive rebounding team, which should help Frank Martin's team against the 2-3 zone, but as a whole, this team isn't built to score against a 2-3 zone.
Kansas State does an excellent job at getting to the free throw line, but a strength of the SU defense is keeping opponents off the charity stripe.
The Wildcats have some shooters, but only Jacob Pullen is a serious threat to efficiently light the Orange up from deep.
Kansas State is also undersized in the post, which can be exploited by the Orange's inside combo. The 'Cuse draws a lot of fouls (which can sometimes be a disadvantage), but as a whole drawing fouls is a positive thing and something Jim Boeheim's club can do against a foul-happy Kansas State team.
Final Four Team SU Should Fear: Ohio State
At first glance, it looks like Ohio State would be a team Syracuse could handle easily.
The Buckeyes don't run more than six, sometimes seven players deep, and the zone does a good job limiting teams with a single dominant player.
Their legs could grow tired, and Evan Turner could be forced to take over a game, something difficult to do against the Syracuse defense.
Then you look at the rest of the Buckeyes, and you realize this team could potentially clobber the Orange.
Would the zone hamper Turner's ability to score in the paint and cut down on his free throw attempts? Definitely. But the end result would be Turner kicking the ball out to a multitude of three-point shooters waiting to destroy the 'Cuse zone.
At any given time, Ohio State can put at least three more than capable three-point bombers on the floor.
While OSU doesn't match up well defensively against the Orange attack, the offense might be enough to keep the Buckeyes afloat. When teams pile on points against Syracuse, they typically do so in a way that this Orange offense can't come close to keeping up.
National Title Team SU Should Want: Kentucky
John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson—that's a tremendous trio that few teams can stop.
Syracuse is one of them. While Cousins and Patterson can easily body up with Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku, Kentucky defensively doesn't have answers for SU's point guard combo, Andy Rautins and Wes Johnson.
On the defensive end for Syracuse, the zone should cause Kentucky all kinds of problems. The Wildcats have been nothing short of a disaster against the best zone defenses they've played this season. Wall is a tremendous point guard and distributor, but he hasn't quite learned yet how to attack the zone.
Wall shows promise against this defense, but Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky's third stud, frequently makes bad decisions against not only the zone, but also man-to-man.
National Title Team SU Should Fear: Kansas
The Jayhawks have made it pretty clear in the last few weeks of the season: This is the best team in the country.
With an outstanding inside-outside combination in Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, the Jayhawks have a combo that could give the 'Cuse fits on both ends of the floor.
Collins can break down the zone with ease, and Aldrich has the pure girth to body Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson. Kansas has capable shooters (unlike when these two teams met in the championship game in 2003) to defeat the zone.
Xaiver Henry can fill it up inside and outside the arc, while the Morris twins have developed into incredibly efficient post players.
This Kansas team doesn't have one glaring weakness and has shown throughout the season that it already has developed a strong attack against the 2-3 zone.
This is certainly not a team Syracuse wants to face with a national title on the line.