How they got to Boston: Syracuse (33-2) struggled with 16-seed UNC-Asheville before pulling away late and taking a 72-65 win. In the 2nd 3rd round they handled Kansas State without too many issues. The final was 75-59.
Wisconsin (26-9) smothered 13-seed Montana 73-49 in their opener. The next game was a little more tight. In a somewhat contested finish, Vanderbilt had the chance to take the lead in the final seconds but John Jenkins missed a three. The Vanderbilt bench desperately wanted a foul. After a free throw on the other end, Jarredd Berggren tipped the inbounds pass and the Badgers escaped 60-57.
Three things Syracuse fans should know about Wisconsin:
- The Badgers run the slowest tempo in the nation. Okay, that’s hyperbole. They’re not really the slowest. Western Illinois is. The Badgers are simply slower than the other 343 Division I teams.
- They’re not just 2nd in the nation in tempo, they’re also 2nd in two other things. The first is turnover %. The Badgers do a great job taking care of the ball and only turn it over on 15.1% of their trips. The other area they rank 2nd is in forcing teams to miss. They’re 5th in denying 2s and 6th in denying 3s. Add those two together and their eFG% is the 2nd best in the nation on the defensive end.
- They shoot a lot of threes. 41% of their shots are from beyond the arc, and they make 36.2% of them. They have three players (Ben Brust, Rob Wilson and Josh Gasser) who make at least 38.5% from beyond the arc. This should make them good against a zone, but we don’t know, because there are very few zones in the Big Ten.
Three things Wisconsin fans should know about Syracuse:
- Syracuse doesn’t waste possessions. They’re 6th in the nation in fewest turnovers, and they’re 29th at offensive rebounding. Fab Melo was their best offensive rebounder, but even with him out they grabbed over 36% of their misses against Kansas State which is exactly their season average.
- Because they never come out of Boeheim’s patented zone, the Orangemen are one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the nation (341st).
- Despite a steady stream of announcers yammering about how Syracuse’s offense is better without Fab Melo, it’s not at all true.
Jordan Taylor 6-1, SR, Wisconsin: Taylor plays 89.1% of Wisconsins’ minutes. Against Vanderbilt he played 39 minutes. In their Big Ten tournament loss to Michigan State, he played 39 minutes. And he does just about everything well. He has a great assist rate and he rarely turns the ball over. He draws more fouls than anyone else on the team – tying Draymond Green for 6th in the Big Ten – and once he gets to the line he makes 79%. His one weakness is that he shot 43% from beyond the arc as a junior, but only 36% this year.
Dion Waiters 6-4, SO, Syracuse: Waiters doesn’t play as many minutes as Kris Joseph, CJ Fair or Scoop Jardine, but he packs a lot into his possessions. He takes 27.4% of the shots when he’s on the floor, by far the highest on the team. He makes 54% of his 2s, 36% of his 3s, and has a solid assist rate. On defense he generates a steal on 4.7% of opponent’s possessions, which was 3rd best in the Big East.
Most googled terms during out-of-conference games:
- Syracuse: how old is juli boeheim?
- Wisconsin: shortening college shot clock
Last elite-8 appearance:
- Syracuse: 2003
- Wisconsin: 2005