Syracuse's legendary coach, Jim Boeheim, is renowned for his zone defense. The Blue Devils will certainly need more out of their perimeter players to beat Kansas, but there's strength in knowing that any of five different players could lead the team in scoring, even on a night when it has its A-game.
Duke turned to zone this season to take advantage of their inside length, and it's benefited the Blue Devils.
No. 5 seed Clemson (25-9), which plays top-seeded Kansas (29-7) of the Big 12 in the early game Friday, won over New Mexico State before hammering fourth-seeded Auburn by 31 points. Allen quickly fouled Tyus Battle just past half court, and Battle, who scored 19 points and earned raves from Krzyzewski as "one of the best players in the country" and "a big-time player", made one of two free throws. What was the reaction like when Syracuse found out they were going to the NCAA tournament?
The Blue Devils (28-7) have won nine of their last 11 games, and are heavily favored to end this magical run by Syracuse (23-13), an 11¹/₂-point favorite by Vegas oddsmakers. Despite admitting the mental block it seemed his team had when taking open shots, the change in type of game against Kansas is a welcome change: "We're definitely looking forward to it".
"If I did play, it would just be really short minutes, I'm sure", Haas said.
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Duke is one of the top scoring teams in the nation at 85 points a game.
"I feel like we've been in that position before", Bagley said. Gary Trent Jr.is a dead-eye shooter. "Thank goodness they got out of it".
Marvin Bagley scored 22 points and Wendell Carter Jr. had a double-double in the Blue Devils' 69-65 victory over 11th-seeded Syracuse. The Orange has scored between 55 and 60 points in each game, but the length of its 2-3 zone has flummoxed its opponents - holding No. 11 Arizona State (40.4 percent), No. 6 Texas Christian University (39.6) and No. 3 Michigan State (25.8) to bad field-goal percentages. His good friend Mike Krzyzewski appreciated the tactics so much that he put his own twist on them and unveiled a full-time zone look of his own this year. Duke is the second seeded team in the bracket and defeated the Orange earlier in the season, 60-44.
"I think we have moments where we don't play very tough, but I also think we have some moments where our experience and our toughness definitely shows", Kansas coach Bill Self said. In the NCAA East Region, No. 1 seed Villanova's 3-point party rolled past the intense pressure of West Virginia, 90-78, to bring the Wildcats to the doorstep of another Final Four two seasons after winning a national championship. "We started out playing as well offensively as we have in a long time". Syracuse was also ripped by North Carolina in the ACC tournament, 78-59, and was also blown out by Duke on February 24, 60-44. "We want him to take those shots and get over our offensive slumps", Brissett said.
Malik Newman led the Jayhawks (30-7) with 17 points in a one-time runaway that got much closer and, quite frankly, won't mean much to KU fans if their team can't finish the job in the Midwest Region final Sunday.