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Syracuse and Baylor To Meet in 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 0

Posted on March 21, 2019 by Chris Kent
Syracuse is the No. 8 seed in the west region.

The Syracuse University men’s basketball team is headed to the 2019 NCAA Tournament and will meet Baylor University in a first round game in the west region on Thursday March 21. Tip-off is set for approximately 9:57 pm EST from the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT. It is the second straight trip to the Big Dance for the Orange, marking the first time Syracuse has made back-to-back trips to the tournament since 2013 and 2014.

Baylor is the No. 9 seed in the west region.

The Orange drew the No. 8 seed while the Bears are the No. 9 seed. Baylor finished 19-13 and placed fourth in the Big 12 at 10-8 while Syracuse is 20-13 and finished sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 10-8. By the time this game tips off, it will have been three weeks and a day since the Bears’ last victory which came on Feb. 27, an 84-83 home win over Texas. Baylor was one and done in the Big 12 Tournament last week in Kansas City, MO where it lost 83-66 to Iowa State in the quarterfinals, its’ fourth straight loss.

The Bears went 7-7 against teams that qualified for this year’s NCAA Tournament with wins over the likes of Oregon and Texas Tech. Baylor also swept Big 12 foes Iowa State and Oklahoma in Big 12 regular season play. After losing their season opener to Texas Southern the Bears won three straight before losing to Mississippi in the Emerald Coast Classic on Nov. 23. Baylor went 3-2 over its’ next five games before beating Oregon at home 57-47 on Dec. 21. After opening Big 12 play 1-2, the Bears won six in a row before suffering back-to-back losses to Texas and Kansas State. Baylor rebounded with four wins in its’ next five games before dropping its’ last three regular season games.

Tyus Battle scored a season high 32 points in Syracuse’s win at Duke on Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, the Orange have dropped two of their last three games. Syracuse went 1-1 in the ACC Tournament last week in Charlotte, NC where it beat Pittsburgh in the second round before falling in the quarterfinals to Duke which went on to win the tournament title. The Orange had a solid regular season in which they were highly challenged down the stretch. Syracuse faced four teams that finished in the top seven of the final regular season conference standings in their last six games, going only 2-4. The losses were to Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and Clemson while the victories came over Louisville and Wake Forest. Despite losing to three teams that went on to secure No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament (Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina), the Orange were still competitive in all those games. The major victory for Syracuse this season was a 95-91 win in overtime at No. 1 Duke on Jan. 14. That victory was sorely needed as the Orange had come off a 73-59 home loss to Georgia Tech just two days prior.

Syracuse opened the season 2-0 before suffering back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Oregon in the 2K Classic on Nov. 15 and 16. The Orange rebounded with a five-game winning streak which included a 72-62 win at Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge on Nov. 28. Home losses to Old Dominion and Buffalo made the postseason projection for Syracuse more difficult at the time before the later wins over Duke and Louisville put them on safe ground for an NCAA at large bid. The team from upstate New York was 5-8 against teams that made this year’s NCAA field of 68.

The Orange and Bears have met only twice before with Syracuse holding a 2-0 edge. They last met in the championship game of the Maui Invitational in 2013 when the Orange won 74-67. Syracuse also won 94-71 during the 2006-07 season.

The Orange will get a boost against Baylor with the return of junior shooting guard Tyus Battle who sat out the ACC Tournament due to a back injury he sustained in the regular season finale at Clemson on March 9. Battle, an All-ACC Third Team selection this season, leads Syracuse in scoring and ranks sixth in the ACC with 17.2 points per-game. Battle has scored in double figures 27 times this season which includes 14 20-point outings and a pair of 30-point games. Battle, who was also named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District II team on March 12, is second on the team with 77 assists and leads the team in minutes played per-game at 36.3. Senior point guard Frank Howard steadies the ship for the Orange with 8.9 ppg and dishes out a team best 2.9 assists per-game. However that production will not be available for Syracuse as it was reported late afternoon on March 20 via News Channel 9 in Syracuse, NY that Howard will not play against Baylor and has been ruled out of the NCAA Tournament for an indefinite period due to violation of an unspecified athletic department policy. Boeheim will likely replace Howard in the starting lineup.

Oshae Brissett maneuvers inside looking to get to the basket.

Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett and junior forward Elijah Hughes are productive players on the wings for the Orange. Brissett grabs a team best 7.5 rebounds per-game while Hughes has converted a team-high 81 3-pointers and shoots 36.0 percent from behind the arc. Hughes and Brissett both average double figures in scoring with 13.4 and 12.4 ppg respectively. Senior center Paschal Chukwu grabs 5.4 rpg, chips in 4.3 ppg, and leads the team with 1.8 blocks per-game.

Orange head coach Jim Boeheim, in his 43rd year at the helm of his alma mater, typically has played just seven to eight players meaning a mostly short bench during his career. This year he has a little more flexibility with four players he can bring off the bench. This includes his son, 6-5 freshman guard Jackson Thomas “Buddy” Boeheim who adds scoring punch as a 3-point threat. The younger Boeheim, who started the two ACC Tournament games in place of the injured Battle, has shot 47-for-129 on the season from the 3-point line, good for 36.4 percent. He averages 6.9 ppg. Freshman guard Jalen Carey, along with sophomore forwards Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe are the other reserves for coach Boeheim. Dolezaj is a smart and efficient player who contributes 4.1 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense is again a major factor this season with the length of their guards and forwards to go with the 7-2 Chukwu who is the tallest player ever in Orange history. Howard and Battle go 6-5 and 6-6 on top of the zone at the guard positions while Brissett and Hughes add length at 6-8 and 6-6 respectively on the wings. This height and reach allow the zone to be effective with a better chance for deflecting passes and shots. This can lead to turnovers enabling Syracuse to get out in transition and covert easy buckets. The Orange shoot 42.4 percent on the season and holds its’ opponents to just under 40 percent at 39.7. Syracuse also has a +3.2 turnover margin and force 1.7 more steals per game than their opponents.

Makai Mason looks to get off a shot on a drive to the basket.

The Bears counter with redshirt senior guard Makai Mason, a transfer from Yale of the Ivy League, who leads Baylor with 14.6 ppg. Redshirt sophomore Mario Kegler, who goes 6-7 and 230, is listed at guard and forward and averages 10.7 ppg along with 6.0 rpg. Mark Vital, a 6-5 redshirt sophomore guard/forward adds 7.0 ppg and leads the team with 7.2 rpg. Baylor also gets 10.1 ppg from freshman guard Jared Butler. Senior guard King McClure scores 8.7 ppg.

Both teams are similar in profile with their statistical production spread over several players giving them balance. They each went 10-8 in two of the top conferences in the country. They each had a rough ending to the regular season with multiple losses before short stays in their postseason conference tournaments. The Orange are a 20-game winner while the Bears have won 19, a sign of Syracuse getting the higher seed in this 8 vs. 9 matchup. A competitive game should be in store with the winner advancing to the second round on Saturday March 23 where the Gonzaga Bulldogs – the region’s No. 1 seed – will likely be awaiting.

Small Conferences Provide Big Tournament Excitement 18

Posted on March 06, 2012 by Dean Hybl

It was pure joy for players and fans in Richmond when VCU punched their NCAA Tournament dance ticket.

There was a time when the weekend of the ACC and Big East men’s basketball tournaments was as anticipated as the opening week of the NCAA Tournament.

When I was a middle and high school student in Virginia during the early 1980s, the only time our teachers would ever bring a television into the classroom was on the Friday afternoon of the ACC Tournament so we could watch that opening game in between science, math or English lessons.

In the Big East you could always count on classic battles between Georgetown, St. Johns, Syracuse and Villanova as each looked to secure bragging rights in a conference that was built for basketball.

That, of course, was the days before the 64 team tournament (now 68) when only the best team or two from each league was assured of making the tournament field and even high quality squads had to make a deep run in the conference tournament to guarantee a spot in the NCAA field.

Since 1985 when the NCAA field expanded from 53 to 64 teams after having as few as 22 teams participating just a decade earlier, the role of the conference tournament in power leagues like the ACC, Big East and SEC in determining which teams make the NCAA field has steadily declined.

Now, instead of the third or fourth seeded teams in these tournaments feeling they needed to make a run to the title game to ensure a spot in the NCAA field, they now enter the tournament knowing an early exit won’t hurt them and the extra rest may actually be helpful for their NCAA run.

Occasionally, like Georgia in the SEC in 2008 or Connecticut in the Big East last year, a team that must win the conference tournament to make the NCAA’s can still emerge and capture the crowd. Read the rest of this entry →

Memorable NCAA Tournament Runs – Part 1, 50-26 5

Posted on March 15, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The 1994 Boston College Eagles ended a string of 14 consecutive Sweet 16 appearances for the UNC Tar Heels.

One of the many reasons that fans love March Madness is an underdog team managing to pull together a series of unlikely victories to help ruin someone’s bracket.

With that in mind, I have created the 50 most memorable NCAA tournament runs in recent history.

Every single run that is represented in this list is from 1979 through the present, since seeding was first used back in the 1979 tournament.

A team did not have to make it to the Final Four or win the national championship just to get mentioned on this list.

The more surprising the run they made, the higher the team is.

So, let’s begin the 50 most memorable NCAA tournament runs starting with 50:

50. 1982 Houston
The “Phi Slamma Jamma” made three consecutive Final Fours from 1982 through 1984, but their appearance in 1982 was a surprise.

As a #6 seed in the Midwest Regional, the Cougars defeated Alcorn State, then higher seeds Tulsa and Missouri, and beat fellow Cinderella Boston College in the regional final.

The Cougars would lose in the Final Four to eventual national champion North Carolina.

49. 1988 Rhode Island
The Rams became the first Atlantic 10 team to reach the Sweet 16, as the East region’s #11 seed knocked off Missouri and Syracuse, thanks to guard Tom Garrick’s combined 57 points in the two victories.

Rhode Island narrowly missed advancing to the Elite Eight as they lost in the Sweet 16 to Duke, 73-72.

48. 1982 UAB
In just their fifth season of basketball, the Blazers made it all the way to the Elite Eight.

The tournament field had 48 teams from 1980 through 1984 and since they were a #4 seed, UAB got a first round bye, but had to face defending national champion Indiana in the second round.

Led by guard Oliver Robinson, the Blazers defeated the Hoosiers 80-70, then shocked #1 seed and player of the year Ralph Sampson 68-66, to advance to the regional final where their run came to an end at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals.
Read the rest of this entry →

2011 NCAA Tournament: Let the Madness Begin 5

Posted on March 13, 2011 by Dean Hybl

It is that time of year again with brackets being completed and the debate heating up in preparation for the most enjoyable three weeks of the college basketball season, the NCAA Tournament.

In the first year of the 68 team tournament it has been proven that even adding three additional at-large teams doesn’t ensure happiness with the system.

In a year that college basketball experts say is filled with mediocre teams, there continues to be disappointment with some of the selections into the NCAA tournament field. Most specifically, the inclusion of Alabama-Birmingham and Virginia Commonwealth has some experts scratching their head and calling foul.

While both teams certainly have warts, the difference between them and some of the power conference teams that just missed the tournament isn’t significant.

What the NCAA Tournament committee seems to be saying is that conference success isn’t enough to get into the dance. Both UAB and VCU play in solid conferences and had a number of quality victories. Read the rest of this entry →

30 Years Ago: The Birth of March Madness 4

Posted on March 13, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Lonnie McFarlan passes to John Smith for layup that would shock top seeded DePaul.

Lonnie McFarlan passes to John Smith for layup that shocks top-seeded DePaul.

The NCAA Basketball tournament began with the 1979 national championship game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores, featuring Magic Johnson for the Spartans and Larry Bird for the Sycamores.

But the madness really began on March 14, 1981, when the top two ranked teams in the country and the defending national champions were all knocked off in buzzer beater losses.

All in the same afternoon.

The action began in Austin, Texas when the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals faced off with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The game was close throughout but it appeared the Cardinals would advance to the Sweet 16 after guard Derek Smith hit the go-ahead basket to give Louisville a 73-72 lead with five seconds left. Read the rest of this entry →

NCAA vs. UNLV: Is it a Conspiracy? 10

Posted on March 17, 2010 by Richard Marsh

Is the NCAA still punishing UNLV for the antics of Jerry Tarkanian?

Is the NCAA still punishing UNLV for the antics of Jerry Tarkanian?

Of course there is but more on that in a little bit.

First off I am not what you call a “Conspiracy Theorist”. Well maybe a little bit. Like, sure there wasn’t another shooter on the grassy knoll. Like, Amelia Earhart really lost her way. Like all the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle can be explained. Like Elvis is really dead. Now that one I know is not true. Here in Vegas I see Elvis at least three to four times a day, sometimes even in two places at once.

You tell me what dead person could do that. Oh and by the way here’s two more I’ll let you in on but don’t spread the word or I might be found just outside of town in an area called The Valley of Fire. Tupac’s alive for sure plus sports players never bet on games and know that Jeb Bush had nothing to do with the results of the 2000 election results in Florida. Duh, the guy with most votes lost.

With the 2010 NCAA Tournament on the verge of sending sports fans everywhere into March Madness my 20 year old nagging conspiracy that the powers that be in the NCAA land continues it’s life long vengeance against the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

This body of old, decrepit individuals really can hold a grudge. Geez!

Lets go back a little more than a generation ago. If you think of the City of Las Vegas to be “Sin City” now try to imagine when the town was run by the Mob, known in some circles as the Cosa Nostra, the Mafia, the Godfathers, that thing of ours, and my favorite, the Little Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Hell our current Mayor, Oscar (“I was not a mob lawyer”) Goodman was THE mob lawyer for Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Seigal. No he wasn’t but it sounds good, doesn’t it? Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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