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Preview: Wisconsin vs. Syracuse

No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 1 Syracuse meet in Boston for the right to advance to the Elite Eight.

Can Ryan Evans stay hot for the Badgers?

How they got here

Syracuse rolled through the regular season, going 31-1 on their way to the regular season Big East Championship. The Orange were sent home early however in their conference tournament, losing to Cincinnati in the quarterfinals. The Orange were still awarded the No. 1 seed in the East Region and advanced to the Sweet 16 by defeating No. 16 UNC-Asheville and No. 8 Kansas State.

Starting lineup

G Scoop Jardine 6-2 Sr. (8.6 ppg)
G Brandon Triche 6-4 Jr. (9.1 ppg)
G C.J. Fair 6-8 So. (8.3 ppg)
F Kris Joseph 6-7 Sr. (13.7 ppg)
F Rakeem Christmas 6-9 Fr. (2.7 ppg)

Strengths

Scoring: The Orange average almost 75 points per game on the season, only trailing Marquette in the Big East. Syracuse will stretch the floor with multiple scorers capable of scoring in double figures. The Orange led the Big East in field goal percentage at 46.6 percent.

Defense: Syracuse's 2-3 zone has caused their opponents to shoot an awful percentage from the floor. The Orange lead in the Big East in field goal percentage defense and are third in scoring defense.

Creating turnovers: Despite sitting back in a zone, the Orange have been very effective in forcing their opponents into mistakes. Syracuse forces 9.4 steals per game, leading the Big East. The Orange are also No. 1 in the Big East in turnover margin.

Weaknesses

Rebounding: Syracuse's zone causes them to be suspect on the boards. The Orange are No. 13 in the Big East in defensive rebounding and No. 8 in offensive rebounding. Syracuse is No. 14 in rebounding margin in their conference as well.

Free throws: Although the Orange have stepped up at the line in crunch time, Syracuse is just No. 10 in the Big East in free throw percentage at under 70 percent.

Protecting the rim: Syracuse was a stellar shot blocking team with 7-foot center Fab Melo, without their sophomore big man, the Orange struggled to keep opponents away from the rim.

Player to Watch

Sixth man James Southerland has come off the bench and given Syracuse a big scoring boost in the first two games of the NCAA Tournament. The junior is averaging 15 points per game thus far in the tournament.

Prediction

Wisconsin is probably playing their best basketball heading into tonight's game. All the Badger's parts seem to be working well together on all ends.

However, like Michigan State, Syracuse has too much depth for Wisconsin in this game. Syracuse will struggle defensively, because the Bagders will throw five legitimate 3-point threats at them at all times, but the Orange's athleticism will bother Wisconsin too much on both ends.

Syracuse 64, Wisconsin 59.

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