NCAA Tournament Round 2
No. 14 Western Michigan Broncos (23-9, 14-4 MAC) vs. No. 3 Syracuse Orange (27-5, 14-4 ACC)
DAY & TIME: Thursday, March 20, 2:45 p.m. ET
WHERE: First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
TV: CBS (check local listings for channel number)
STREAMING: MarchMadness Live app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) or CBSSports.com
HISTORY: These two teams have met on the hardwood twice before, with Syracuse winning both. The ninth-ranked Orangemen (at the time) beat the Broncos in the first meeting 93-71 back in 1978. They did it again by an almost identical score of 94-71 a decade later, this time Syracuse was the No. 3 team in the nation.
HOW'D THEY GET HERE: (from Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician...):
The Syracuse Orange were supposed to be a 1-seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
At least, that's how it felt roughly six weeks ago. ...
We could sit here all day and recount all of the mistakes, bad shooting nights and shockers. The Orange lost (and won) and lot of strange games. I think it was the Georgia Tech loss that really sealed the deal. That was when Syracuse was truly revealed to the nation for the vulnerable, broken machine that they have been. The Yellow Jackets did what Syracuse couldn't, hit clutch shots late in the game, and since then the 25-0 team that started the season is a memory and the team that ended the season on a 3-5 cold streak is the one everyone expects to make it no further than the Sweet Sixteen.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair. We all should know about Ennis by now. The freshman has made damn sure he's a known name in the world of college basketball. But not just for late-game heroics, this guy is a stud. He's second on the team with 12.7 ppg, leads the team with 5.6 apg, and swipes opponents an average of 2.1 times a game.
Then there's the big senior, Fair. He's not a shot-blocking type big that has anchored that 'Cuse zone in years past, but man can this power forward score. He averages 16.7 points per game, while pulling down just a hair over 6 boards. He shoots nearly 43 percent and is just a dynamic scorer. He's also a match up nightmare too. It will be interesting to see who Hawkins puts on Fair in the beginning as I don't think Tava can handle him, and using Whittington pulls him out of the paint too much.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Bust that zone. You know those zone defense that EMU and Bowling Green have utilized to terrorize the MAC for the past few years? Where did they learn to do that? Syracuse. Both Rob Murphy and Louis Orr are Jim Boeheim disciples. Because of the Broncos experience with the 2-3 zone they're more prepared for this match up than your average school and that is certainly an advantage. Plus, Syracuse has struggled as of late while the Broncos have lost just one game since the start of February. David Brown has proven he can get hot and crack a zone wide open, and Shayne Whittington is equally as dangerous in the post.
WHAT's NEXT: The winner advances on to play the winner of the 6/11 match up between Ohio State and Dayton.