Through the positive times and the struggling moments, Syracuse's best attribute this past season was their defense. In more than half of their wins for the 2012-13 season (19 of 30), the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team held their opponents to scores below 60 points.
This allowed for the Orange to remain on the winning end of the spectrum despite fluctuation in their offensive output from game to game.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim believes his 2-3 zone defense got even better toward the end. "In the tournament, I think our defense got a little bit better," Boeheim noted. In all of the five games that they played in within the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse held every team under 65 points. The Orange kept two of those five opponents below 40 points.
"But we're also, for the most part, playing teams that don't see our defense so that helps us, too," he added. All but one of their five foes in the 2013 NCAA Tournament had faced their 2-3 zone during the season, that being the Marquette Golden Eagles. The Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten, the Montana Grizzlies of the Big Sky, and the California Bears of the Pac-12 went up against the Syracuse zone for the first time in the 2012-13 campaign during the NCAA Tournament.
Though other teams across the country play their own version of the 2-3 zone, there is no team more widely renowned for this defense than Boeheim's Orange, and rightly so. In the 21st century alone, from 2000 through 2013, Boeheim's defense has helped provide 345 wins to 114 losses.
"It's completely different from anybody else's," said Boeheim of his defense. "Because we work on it. Other teams spend a little bit of time. We spend most of our time on it and we add things to it, so it's a completely different defense than what other people see."
"So when they see it, not that they can't beat it, sure you can, but it's just different and you don't get to practice against this defense," a major advantage Boeheim has been utilizing for years.