The Syracuse vs Michigan Final Four matchup has garnered a lot of hype during the week leading up to college basketball's final games. If the Orange are to emerge victorious and play for the national championship on Monday, there are five keys they must follow.
1. Force Turnovers: Michigan is the best team in the country at taking care of the basketball. However, in the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse has used their stifling zone to force a lot of turnovers. If the Orange are able to turn the Wolverines over, it could be a long day for Michigan.
2. Stay Aggressive in the Zone: One of the reasons the Syracuse zone has been so affective in the tournament is because of the aggressiveness with which the players have executed. Syracuse must continue to be aggressive in that zone, trapping when possible and limiting good looks at the basket. Specifically, Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche must try to limit Burke's impact at the top of the zone.
3. Crash the Boards: Mitch McGary has been playing very well of late, and has been a force on the boards. Syracuse does not have to dominate the rebounding battle, but they have to stay respectable. Limit McGary's impact on the offense glass, and create second chance opportunities themselves.
4. Take Advantage of Mismatches: Whoever Trey Burke is matched up against one on one, be it Triche or Carter-Williams, Syracuse will have a size advantage. Much like the game plan against Indiana, the Syracuse guards should take advantage of this matchup by attacking the rim early and often. Michigan lacks the big time shot blocker inside, so driving lanes should be available. Don't be surprised if you see Michael Carter-Williams post up inside as well. C.J. Fair also plays a critical role here. Syracuse has a big advantage on the offensive end with Fair, and should look to run their offense through him at times in order to exploit that matchup.
5. Take Care of the Basketball: Michigan loves to get out and run, and the Wolverines excel in the open court. Limiting turnovers will be huge for the Orange to prevent easy transition buckets the other way. Force Michigan to score against the zone as much as possible and Syracuse should be successful.