With the final set of “Third Round” games finishing up Sunday night, it’s time for the Sweet 16. As we do every year, we will have in-depth previews of each Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchup this weekend.
In this post, we preview the East Region Sweet 16 matchup between the cantankerous Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange and the ultra-expressive Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers.
Syracuse-Wisconsin Sweet 16 Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #1 Syracuse v #4 Wisconsin in East Region
- Syracuse-Wisconsin Date: Thursday, 3/22
- Syracuse-Wisconsin Tip Time: TBA
- Syracuse-Wisconsin Location: Boston
- Syracuse-Wisconsin TV: TBA
- Syracuse-Wisconsin Announcers: TBA
- Syracuse-Wisconsin Point Spread: Syracuse -5
- Tickets: East Regional Tickets in Boston
Syracuse-Wisconsin Analysis and Prediction
It should be a great matchup when Syracuse and Wisconsin square off in Boston on Thursday, as both teams rank inside the Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Orange advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by outscoring Kansas State 50-35 in the second half to win by sixteen. Dion Waiters led the way with 18 points, while Scoop Jardine added 16 points and eight assists. The Badgers held off a late Vanderbilt rally to win by three points, as five players scored in double figures. Wisconsin took 33 of its 55 shots from beyond the arc and hit 10 triples for the game.
Syracuse’s much-maligned defensive rebounding catches a bit of a break since the Badgers rank 225th in offensive rebounding percentage at just 30.7 percent. But while the Orange’s defensive weakness may be neutralized, so will their greatest strength. Syracuse ranks in the Top 10 in turnover rate, but the Badgers boast the second-lowest turnover rate in the nation at 15.1 percent. Don’t expect many free throws for Wisconsin, who ranks outside of the Top 300 in free throw rate, particularly because the Orange do a great job of keeping their opponents off the stripe.
The key for Wisconsin offensively will be three-point shooting. While the fact that the Badgers took 60 percent of their shots from beyond the arc on Saturday was extreme, they have taken 41 percent of their shots from long range for the season. Wisconsin hits 36.2 percent from deep, but Syracuse is among the best three-point defense in the country, ranking 26th at 30.7 percent. The vaunted Orange 2-3 zone invites teams to take long threes, and the Badgers will certainly oblige. It’s just a matter of whether guys like Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Rob Wilson, and Jordan Taylor can get hot from long range.
On the other end, don’t count on many turnovers or free throws from Syracuse. The Badgers simply don’t force many miscues, while the Orange are in the Top 10 in turnover rate. However, Wisconsin has a low opponents’ free throw rate, and Syracuse rank outside of the Top 250 in that area.
Consequently, the things to watch will be offensive rebounds and two-point shooting. The Badgers have a high defensive rebounding percentage at 72.3, but Syracuse has grabbed 36.6 percent of its misses this year. Obviously the loss of Fab Melo hurts in that area, but they posted offensive rebounding percentages of 40.5 and 36.0 in their first two NCAA Tournament games this year.
In terms of two-point shooting, the Orange made 60.6 percent in their game versus UNC-Asheville but just 47.2 percent against Kansas State, and for the season, they are shooting 52.1 percent inside the arc. However, the Badgers rank 5th in two-point defense at 41.6 percent. Obviously these two items tie closely together, as offensive rebounds lead to easy shot attempts inside.
Expect a slow-paced, tight game in Boston between these two teams. I’m giving the Badgers the slight edge based on their defensive ability and how well they take care of the basketball. The fact that the Syracuse defense is going to force Wisconsin to take three-pointers doesn’t matter much since that’s what the Badgers want to do anyway. I also like how Ryan Evans has played of late and think he could give Syracuse some trouble on the offensive glass.
Predicted Winner: Wisconsin
Syracuse Orange Team Capsule
- Conference: Big East
- Record: 31-2 (17-1 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 12-2
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut (3), Florida, Georgetown, Louisville (2), Marquette, North Carolina State, South Florida, West Virginia
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Notre Dame
- Player to Watch: Dion Waiter (6’4” G, So.) – 12.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.9 spg
Syracuse Bottoms Line:
The Orange are among the deeper teams in the country with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.
Kris Joseph scores 13.8 points per game to lead seven players who average at least 6.6 points. Sixth man Dion Waiters is instant offense off the bench, and he also boasts one of the top steal percentages in the country. Scoop Jardine gives the Orange a veteran at the point, and he has posted a fantastic assist rate while also hitting nearly 55 percent of his two-pointers.
The team has lost just once with big man Fab Melo in the lineup, which says a lot about how much he has improved since a disappointing freshman campaign. Melo has a high block rate and does a nice job on the offensive boards. (But, of course, Melo is out…) Fellow soph C.J. Fair has also played well of late and gives Syracuse yet another talented athlete in the frontcourt.
Overall, the Orange are in the Top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They do a great job of taking care of the ball and have a high offensive rebounding percentage. For as good as they are on the offensive glass, Syracuse as just as bad on the defensive end. They rank 341st in defensive rebounding percentage, and they allow opponents to rebounding nearly 39 percent of their misses. Other than that, the Orange are fantastic in all facets on the defensive end.
Wisconsin Badgers Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Ten
- Record: 24-9 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 6-7
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: BYU, Indiana (2), Ohio State, Purdue, UNLV
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State (3), North Carolina, Ohio State
- Player to Watch: Jordan Taylor (G, Sr.) – 14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.0
Wisconsin Bottoms Line:
As has become customary, the Badgers are among the most efficient teams on the defensive end. They rank in the Top 10 in both two- and three-point defense and in the Top 50 in defensive rebounding percentage and opponents’ free throw rate. The team has struggled on offense at times, because they are very reliant on the three-point shot. The Badgers take just over 40 percent of their shots from long range, but the common theme in most of their losses has been poor three-point shooting. With a low offensive rebounding percentage and a poor free throw rate, there really isn’t a plan B when shots aren’t falling.
Despite leading the team in scoring and assists, Jordan Taylor’s season has been somewhat of a disappointment. His shooting has dropped off, and the lack of a consistent offensive threat like Jon Leuer has made it difficult for him to find room to operate. Still, his assist and turnover rates are still impressive, and he has continued to find ways to get to the free throw line. Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren both average better than 10 points and five rebounds, with Evans particularly effective on the defensive glass and Berggren able to step outside and hit threes. Josh Gasser and Ben Brust are capable long-range shooters as well, and Mike Bruesewitz has struggled with his shot but still helps out on the glass.
As usual, the Badgers are content to slow the game down and limit the number of possessions, so don’t expect them to light up the scoreboard anytime soon.
East Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Point Spreads
|1||#1 Syracuse def #16 UNC-Asheville 72-65||Thu, 3/15||3:05 ET||Pittsburgh||Harlan-Elmore||truTV||SU -17|
|2||#8 Kansas State def #9 Southern Miss 70-64||Thu, 3/15||12:40 ET||Pittsburgh||Harlan-Elmore||truTV||KST -6.5|
|3||#4 Wisconsin def #13 Montana 73-49||Thu, 3/15||2:10 ET||Albuquerque||Dedes-Wenzel||TNT||WIS -9.5|
|4||#5 Vanderbilt def #12 Harvard 79-70||Thu, 3/15||4:35 ET||Albuquerque||Dedes-Wenzel||TNT||VAN -6.5|
|5||#2 Ohio State def #15 Loyola (MD) 78-59||Thu, 3/15||9:45 ET||Pittsburgh||Harlan-Elmore||TNT||OSU -17.5|
|6||#7 Gonzaga def #10 West Virginia 77-54||Thu, 3/15||7:20 ET||Pittsburgh||Harlan-Elmore||TNT||Pick 'em|
|7||#3 Florida State def #14 St. Bonaventure 66-63||Fri, 3/16||2:40 ET||Nashville||Eagle-Spanarkel||CBS||FSU -6|
|8||#6 Cincinnati def #11 Texas 65-59||Fri, 3/16||12:15 ET||Nashville||Eagle-Spanarkel||CBS||CIN -2|
|9||#1 Syracuse def #8 Kansas State 77-59||Sat, 3/17||12:15 ET||Pittsburgh||Harlan-Elmore||CBS||SU -5|
|10||#4 Wisconsin def #5 Vanderbilt 60-57||Sat, 3/17||6:10 ET||Albuquerque||Dedes-Wenzel||TNT||VAN -1|
|11||#2 Ohio State def #7 Gonzaga 73-66||Sat, 3/17||2:45 ET||Pittsburgh||Harlan-Elmore||CBS||OSU -7.5|
|12||#3 Florida State v #6 Cincinnati||Sun, 3/18||9:40 ET||Nashville||Eagle-Spanarkel||TBS|
|13||#1 Syracuse v #4 Wisconsin||Thu, 3/22||Boston||SU -4|
|14||#2 Ohio State v Game 12 Winner||Thu, 3/22||Boston|
|ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL|
|15||Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner||Sat, 3/24||Boston|