NCAA tournament team previews: Syracuse Orange
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. For more teams, click here.
Record: 27-5, 14-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference
Adj. Offense/ Adj. Defense: 113.4 (32nd) / 94.2 (18)
Seed: No. 3 in South
Impact player: Tyler Ennis, freshman guard. 12.7 ppg, 5.6 apg, 42nd in country in ast rate, 34th in country in stl%.
The Case For:
For all its recent struggles, Syracuse is still the same team that started the year 25-0. That genetic makeup is in there somewhere, and head coach Jim Boeheim can wipe the slate clean heading into the NCAA tournament. Point guard Tyler Ennis is one of the best freshmen in the country, a healthy Jerami Grant gives the Orange the size and skill they desperately need up front and C.J. Fair is a scorer capable of going off at any given time. If Syracuse can get anything out of slumping shooting guard Trevor Cooney, it still has the capability of reaching the Final Four.
The Case Against:
The Orange picked the wrong time to go into a tailspin. They lost four of six to close out the regular season and were one-and-done in the ACC tournament. Fair has become more inconsistent than Syracuse wants, and Cooney can't find his shot, having made just 21 percent from 3-point range over his last eight games. Relying so heavily on a freshman to lead the offense worked pretty well for Boeheim in 2003, but Ennis is no Carmelo Anthony. Defensively, the Orange's famed 2-3 zone is susceptible against disciplined offensive teams.
SI prediction: Beat Western Michigan in second round, lose to Dayton in third roundView complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts