Sunday, March 31, 2013

BUCKET BRACKETS 103: Best Defense Ever?

Johnny J

The Syracuse Orange were the first team to punch their ticket to the Final Four next weekend in Atlanta by beating Marquette 55-39. The Golden Eagles defeated the Orange back in February 74 -71, but Saturday was all Syracuse. The 2-3 zone swarmed all over Marquette  as they coughed up the ball 13 times. Both teams shot poorly from the field: Syracuse just 38% and Marquette a measly 23%. They shot 12%from behind the arc going 3-25.

"They cover ground really good. You've got to get the ball in the middle, you've got to play inside out, you've got to get to the free-throw line and wear them down with the 3-pointer when you can,"said Marquette's junior guard, Vander Blue. "They're really good at what they do in that zone." Blue went 3-15 from the floor.

Syracuse makes their fourth Final Four appearance, the last time was in 2003, when they won the National Champion. Led by a guy you may know, by the name of Carmelo Anthony. So what's better than having Anthony's jersey retired this year? Wait, wait--what's better than saying good bye to the Big East Conference and saying hello to the Atlantic Coast Conference? I'l tell you what; it's bringing home a Championship trophy and switching conferences at the same time. Hello ACC! Welcome the University of Syracuse, 2013 Champions!

"You want to go out with a win," said junior forward C.J. Fair.

Barack Obama was in attendance as well as Washington Redskins quarterback, Robert Griffin III. I guess Obama had to see the team that beat his team up-close in person (he had Indiana winning it all).  Not a bad way to leave the nation's capital, brushing off your shoulders.

Syracuse played an up and down season all year long. The first part of the season they went 18-1.  They looked like a dominant Big East team that couldn't be slowed down. They finally did in the second half, going 5-7 against teams in the Big East. They played so bad down the stretch, that they had to open the Big East tournament against Seton Hall. Usually a good team in the conference gets a first round bye to let the weaker teams battle it out. Yes, Syracuse was considered a weak team late in the season. They overcame adversity by making it past three teams to reach the Big East Championship. They lost it by 17 to Louisville.

I have no idea how you lose 7 out of 12 games and still be a ranked team. Syracuse were ranked 19th at the end of the season, which helped them secure a four seed in the NCAA Tournament. Somebody must have known something I didn't because they turned it on after that loss to Louisville, winning three straight to reach the Final Four.

The Orange are making more rounds than the Blue Man Group!

Also reaching the Final Four is Wichita St.  A team that has reached the Final Four for the first time since 1956. Since my bracket is totally ruined, I wouldn't mind seeing Syracuse and Louisville in the Championship game. A rematch and a farewell gift. The battle of the Big East for one last time! With Louisville all ready punching their ticket to the Final Four, that scenario is one step closer to becoming a reality.

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