How to beat the Irish?
1) Play active defense. Syracuse's defense against Notre Dame in the 103-91 loss on January 30th was abominable. The Irish shredded the SU man-to-man and demolished the zone. Notre Dame also scored 12 points in transition and off turnovers in the first half of that game, so the Orange will need to do a better job of getting back on D than they did yesterday against UConn.
2) Take care of the ball. The Irish aren't the most athletic team in the Big East, but they are well-schooled in the principles of man to man defense, so they defend the passing lanes very well. Some of the passes that are open against more undisciplined teams will dry up against Notre Dame. Devendorf, Harris, and Wright need to recognize when they are being baited into passing, as the Irish jump the lanes well and will pick off lazy passes. They sure took advantage of this in the previous match-up.
3) Spring Nichols loose. The senior forward was phenomenal in the first round win, but he had some serious struggles against Russel Carter the first time the Orange took on the Irish. Carter is one of the league's best defenders, so Roberts and Watkins will need to continue setting good screens, and Nichols, who was a blur of perpetual motion yesterday, must continue to move without the ball.
4) Match the Irish physicality. Freshman forward Luke Harangody single-handedly man-handled the Orange last time around. The SU defense was not prepared for how aggressive he is with his body. This time around they will need to match that aggressiveness, particularly on the defensive glass. Also, Rob Kurz was not available for Notre Dame in the February loss, but will play today. That gives the Irish another big body to throw around. Watkins and Roberts must battle today, but given their history of play in the BET, they should be up to the task.
5) Isolate Harris. If Harris and Nichols are on the floor at the same time, it will present a match-up problem for ND, as Russel Carter is the logical choice to defend both players. If Carter sticks to Nichols, Harris should be able to get into the paint against whomever is defending him. Once he gets into the paint, he can attack the glass or dish out. Yesterday he had two strong drives for baskets and also set up Nichols and Devendorf off dribble drives.
Prediction: The Syracuse team that is facing Notre Dame today is a different team than the one that was demolished in late January. Look for the Orange to be more patient on offense and more focused on defense. If Syracuse can frustrate the Irish shooters early, they should be able to win. If the Golden Domers get hot within the game's first 8 minutes, it could be a long afternoon of playing catch-up for the Orange. I'm going to go optimistic and say SU ties UConn for the longest BET win streak ever at 9 games. Syracuse 81 Notre Dame 72.
Winning the Big East Tournament - Syracuse's Kiss of Death?
Every Syracuse fan wants the Orange to excel in the Big East Tournament. Any fan of the league looks for Syracuse to dominate the tourney and represent with pride, but does winning the tournament help or hinder SU's chances at further post-season success? The data produces so far suggests that winning the Big East Championship may be the worse thing for SU's NCAA chances. In general, the 'Cuse has had its best showing in the NCAAs when they advance to the Big East semifinals or lose in the conference championship game.
In the 5 years that SU has won the BET, they have mustered a combined total of TWO wins in the NCAA tournament. This is a far cry from the 14 wins they have generated after losing the semifinals 6 times. The Orange also seem to do well after losing in the BET championship game, advancing to the NCAA final four in 1987 and making the Sweet 16 on two other occasions.
Here are the combined totals. Judge for yourself:
|BET Results||# Times||Wins||Losses||PCT|
|First Round||1||No NCAA|
Year by Year Results:
|1993||Lose Championship||no postseason|