Sweet Sixteen Predictions: Wisconsin Badgers vs Syracuse Orange
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
by Mike Stewart
If the Badgers hope to make a return, they’ll have to get past top-seeded Syracuse Orange in an East Regional semifinal in Boston.
The Orange are making their fourth Sweet 16 appearance since 2003, the year they won the national championship.
Syracuse Orange (33-2): When the NCAA declared sophomore center Fab Melo ineligible prior to the start of the tournament, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim noted his team would have to rely on its depth if it hoped to advance. So far, the Orange have gotten strong contributions from the majority of their roster as six players are averaging 10 or more points and the bench has outscored opponents 64-18. After shaking off No. 16 seed UNC-Asheville in its first game, Syracuse blasted eighth-seeded Kansas State 75-59. Dion Waiters scored a game-high 18 points against Kansas State, and Rakeem Christmas, who played a season-high 35 minutes, had eight points and 11 rebounds. Syracuse is 2-1 against Big Ten teams in the last five years and hasn’t played a Big Ten opponent in an NCAA tournament game in more than a decade.
Wisconsin Badgers (26-9): After a 1-3 start in the Big Ten, which included a pair of home losses, expectations were tempered for this year’s Wisconsin team. But the Badgers bounced back, earned a fourth-place conference finish and are dreaming of their first Final Four since 2000. Wisconsin is only 2-5 against Big East opponents in the last five years, with five of those games against Marquette. The Badgers have won six of their last seven, which includes a victory over Ohio State, who they could face in the Elite Eight. Wisconsin has attempted 748 3-pointers, an average of 21 per game, and will need to convert them against the Orange, whose signature 2-3 zone could give them trouble. The No. 4 seed Badgers advanced after holding off Vanderbilt 60-57.
1. Wisconsin is 5-7 against Top 25 teams.
2. Jordan Taylor, who averages a team-high 14.7 points for Wisconsin, has scored 31 points through the first two rounds.
3. Boeheim is 4-11 all-time in the Sweet 16.
NCAA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Syracuse 64, Wisconsin 56.
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