Beat writers predict close matchup in Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament opener against Baylor

first_img Comments Syracuse (20-13, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) earned an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City as a part of the West Region. That sets up a Round of 64 meeting with Baylor (19-13, 10-8 Big 12). The Orange have played the Bears twice before in their histories, with SU winning both matchups. The game tips off at 9:57 p.m. on Thursday.Here’s what our beat writers expect to happen on Thursday night.Billy Heyen (25-8)Teddy bearsSyracuse 69, Baylor 64My one reservation about this matchup is Syracuse protecting its defensive glass. But if the Orange limit second-chance opportunities, they have the upper hand elsewhere. Tyus Battle will be back, Frank Howard is playing his best basketball and Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim and Oshae Brissett have all been effective of late. SU actually has the shooting to stretch the floor when Baylor goes zone, and if the Bears’ go man, Battle can take over to send Syracuse into a likely meeting with one-seed Gonzaga.Charlie DiSturco (24-9)A dash of Orange in MarchSyracuse 65, Baylor 63AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThis is a super interesting matchup for Syracuse. They face a small Baylor team that normally sends out a starting center at 6-foot-8, yet the Bears are the second-best offensive rebounding team in the country. One of the flaws in the 2-3 zone is allowing offensive boards, and that’s what’ll keep this matchup close in the Round of 64. The difference maker, which is why Syracuse will pull away at the end, is the height differential  — SU is the tallest team in the country, while Baylor sits at No. 143. Forcing the ball inside to Oshae Brissett and Paschal Chukwu will be key and using the length at the top of the 2-3 zone will stop an average-shooting Baylor squad. Matthew Gutierrez (20-13)Here come the OrangeSyracuse 62, Baylor 54Here come the Orange for another dance to the second weekend, beginning with a win over Baylor. Syracuse is 7-2 in its last nine NCAA Tournament games — and 12-4 in its last four NCAA Tournament appearances. This appears to be another SU team that could make a good run, at least to the Sweet 16. The basketball SU played in Charlotte was encouraging on a number of levels — Frank Howard, Buddy Boeheim, defense, ball movement — and SU seems made for the Big Dance. March on. Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on March 20, 2019 at 4:06 pmlast_img

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