This matchup features 2 teams that have been historically successful on a yearly basis. Syracuse coach Jim Boehiem is a living legend who last won a championship during Carmello Anthony’s only college season. He is the innovator of the 2/3-zone defense that he has seemingly perfected this season. Michigan has had several coaches since Steve Fisher led the “Fab Five” to 2 fantastic seasons. They have seemed to have found a coach that can run a successful program in John Beilien. These two coaches lead their respective teams into what should be an entertaining game.
Syracuse defeated Montana, California, Indiana, and Marquette en route to their Final Four birth. None of the games were close and they have appeared dominant throughout. Michigan took down South Dakota State, VCU, Kansas, and Florida. The game vs. Kansas was the best game of the tournament and took heroics from star guard Trey Burke in order to force overtime and eventually seal the win. All of the other games were blowout Michigan wins.
PG- Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams vs. Michigan’s Trey Burke
Both players have been the most outstanding players for their respective teams. Carter-Williams is a tall guard who is a smooth operator, adept at getting into the lane and creating shots or himself. He has made the outside shots all tournament long and has become a team leader. Burke has been nothing short of amazing throughout the tournament. He carried his team into the Elite 8 with an amazing performance vs. Kansas and has proven to be a clutch performer.
Edge- Have to go with Michigan but its really close
SG- Syracuse’s Brandon Triche vs. Michigan’s Tim Hardaway
Triche is a veteran who has been in many big games over his 4 years. He is capable of playing both guard spots and is not afraid to take the big shot. Hardaway is a tremendous athlete who is a strong 3-point shooter and finisher around the basket.
SF- Syracuse’s C.J Fair vs. Michigan’s Nik Stauskas
Fair is a crafty lefthander player who can create space and play strong through contact. He is extremely athletic and capable of a big game every night. Stauskas is a better overall player than given credit for. He is most dangerous as a three-point threat.
PF- Syracuse’s James Southerland vs. Michigan’s Glen Robinson
Southerland is an all around scorer. He is just as likely to shoot a long jump shot as he is to take somebody on the block. Robinson is a strong athlete who hits the boards. He is versatile scorer who gets to the foul line.
C- Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas vs. Michigan’s Mitch McGary
Christmas makes his impact in the middle of the zone defense. He protects the paint and has very active hands. McGary has been incredible throughout the tournament. He is a presence down low and a tremendous rebounder
The game should come down to which team can get the game at their pace. Syracuse prefers to slow the game down with their zone defense and has been holding opposing teams to around 50 points. Michigan plays the game at a faster pace and is the better shooting team. Burke and McGary have carried the team thus far; if the Syracuse zone can contain them then they will be playing again on Monday night. Go with the Zone and the points.
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