Three Man Weave is a regular feature on Aggro Swag. Here, Haggleman, Jeezy, and LCP will discuss, well, anything. You’ll probably see a lot of sports, specifically Syracuse basketball, but nothing is off limits here. Except dancing to Pitbull. And Flo-rida too. Today, we look at the NCAA Tournament and Syracuse’s chances at a National Championship.
March Madness is in full effect and the NCAA Tournament begins this week. We asked our resident Syracuse fans to evaluate the Syracuse Orange’s performance in the Big East Tournament and project how they will play in this year’s tournament. It’s heavy on the Baye Keita talk. As it should.
Before we look ahead, let’s look back at Syracuse’s run in the Big East Tournament. What about the Orange most impressed you?
Haggleman Mondays: I was impressed that they made shots, because they had really been terrible at that. Coming into this Tournament the team was struggling to a clip of 31% from 3 on the season. In four days, Syracuse shot almost 50% from 3 (38-for-77), which I think tells us more about how they were getting open looks than how they were just red-hot from deep.
Jeezy Sanchez: I liked the part where they won. And the part where they made threes. Good times all around. The opening halves against Pitt, Georgetown and Louisville had some of the basketball Syracuse has played all season. If they can do that for 40 minutes, they are going to be a tough out in the tournament. Brandon Triche woofing after threes deserves its own slideshow on Bleacher Report.
LCP: Our quick first half starts are what impressed me the most. They carried a lead of nine points or more in our last three tournament games; in large part to making shots. Baye was a huge spark off the bench, changing millions across the globe from Bayecurious to Bayesexual.
That second half collapse against Louisville was certainly depressing. Is it a cause for concern?
HM: I don’t think so. James Southerland was far and away the best player on the court at the Big East Tournament. Then he picked up his fourth foul and was no longer on the court. When that happened, Louisville’s press went into attack mode knowing they only had to protect the rim in transition with almost no shooters available for Syracuse. I know Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche have to do a better job of protecting the ball, but I think this is a rare case where we can do a reverse effect-cause analysis because of Southerland being on the bench. And don’t forget, that was the #1 overall seed and everyone’s favorite pick to cut down the nets in Atlanta that Syracuse lost to. It wasn’t like we blew a 16 point second half lead to Air Bud.
JS: Absolutely. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team completely forget how to play basketball over a 15 minute span, but Syracuse found a way. As the Cards pressed and scored on SU, the Orange were lucky to get any type of shot off if they hadn’t turned it over by then. We all laugh at Baye’s inability to catch a pass, and then Triche appears to coat his hands with butter.
LCP: When you can barely bring the ball up past half court its a problem. I understand their tank was probably on empty, but there was a stretch where they couldn’t even get a shot attempt up. After watching that nightmare of a second half, I’m almost confident our press break is mostly designed for everyone to scatter without much thought beyond that point.
Baye Keita transformed into Michael Jordan in the Big East Tournament. What was your favorite Baye moment from the past weekend?
HM: Man, this is tough. Despite his ability to become automatic at the free throw line, I think my favorite part was that Baye was involved in every single jump ball. That isn’t a joke. Literally every time a jump ball was called at Madison Square Garden this weekend, the refs would jog over, untangle all of the players in the pile, and at the bottom… there was Baye, smiling with that look forced happiness because underneath it all he’s hiding a feeling of “OH MY GOD MADISON SQUARE GARDEN I AM HERE ON THE COURT IN A BASKETBALL GAME OH MY GOD”.
JS: It’s hard to pick just one. Gun to my head, I’ll go with Baye’s perfect night at the free throw line against Georgetown. He was considered our worst free throw shooter, and yet he somehow went 7 for 7 from the charity stripe. Baye was getting shooting tips from Dajuan Coleman for some reason. He was another person in NYC.
LCP: My favorite Baye moment had to be his two handed alley oop slam against Seton Hall. It was poetry in motion that only the video game NBA JAM could capture.
Selection Sunday came and went. What are your thoughts about Syracuse’s draw in the tournament?
HM: I think this is an A+ draw for Syracuse, at least for the first weekend. Montana is more like a 15 seed, if even that, and their leading scorer on the season is done for the year. If you look up a couple of seed lines I’d honestly be more scared of Iona or Florida Gulf Coast than I am of the Grizzlies. In the second round there’s a potential matchup with UNLV, a dangerous team from the Mountain West, but they’re key contributors are young and have been inconsistent on the season. Additionally, I like the Orange’s chances on a quick turnaround to shut down a team ranked 99th (UNLV) or 86th (California) in offensive efficiency, either of which will have almost no time to prepare for by far the toughest zone defense they will have faced all season.
JS: I like it. Despite being the lowest 4-seed, Syracuse gets paired up with the worst 13-seed because the selection committee was drunk. Montana is definitely a basketball team, but I don’t know much more than that about the…”Grizzlies” is it? Getting shipped out to the west coast might be problematic for the next round. UNLV or Cal will basically have home games against SU. All things considered, I’m glad the committee turned off the Louisville game at half time or else the Orange would be in the First Four in Dayton.
LCP: Ehh…I dont know you guys. I am pretty confident the Orange will play their way into the second weekend, but it will be a battle. Montana can shoot the rock, they average close to seven threes made per game at nearly a 40 percent clip. They are ranked 309 in rebounding, so that will be an area our front line will need to expose. Assuming UNLV advances, the Rebels will be a tough matchup. I watched them in the Mountain West Championship game and they won’t be afraid to launch from deep. They also have one of the best freshman in the country (Anthony Bennett). All in all, I think its an OK draw but by no means will it be a cake walk.
It seems like a different guy steps up every night for the Orange. Who needs to play at their best for Syracuse to succeed in the Big Dance?
HM: Well, I’d like to think Southerland can keep shooting at 70%, but assuming he can at least shoot his season average of 40% I’d say the team’s most important player is Brandon Triche. This will be Triche’s fourth NCAA Tournament, and as we’ve seen in past NCAA Tournaments and in this year’s regular season, when Triche contributes offensively, this is a much, much better basketball team.
JS: I have a love-hate relationship with him, but the team goes as Michael Carter-Williams goes. When he plays like he did against Seton Hall and Pitt, driving to the lane and finding the open shooters, Syracuse is tough to beat. If MCW decides to try to put a show on for the NBA scouts sitting courtside, bricking threes and trying to thread the needle through 27 defenders, the Orange fall behind quickly. I’m sure I’ll curse his name regardless.
LCP: Would everybody be an acceptable answer? I think it’s Triche. When he is confident and a scoring threat we are tough to beat. He obviously has some issues, mostly with just holding the ball, but if he can cut down the WTF plays I think we can make a deep run.
Prediction time. How far do you see Syracuse advancing in the tourney?
HM: I’m going back and (Craig) forth on this. I could see this team having a Florida/Louisville type run where they’re hot at the right time and the bracket just opens up like dream for them (possibly with N.C. State knocking off Indiana). I could also see them reverting back to their old selves and flaming out against UNLV by not getting to 50 points in the Round of 32. For now, I’ll split it down the middle and say they lose in the Sweet 16 in a game for the ages against Indiana. No shame there.
JS: Ultimately, this team’s ceiling is the Sweet 16. They have played over their heads all season, and if you asked me this last weekend I wouldn’t give them a chance against the Washington Generals. The Big East Tournament gave them a shot of confidence and if they can keep that going, a loss to Indiana is an acceptable ending to the 2012-2013 campaign.
LCP: Jay Williams picked us to make it to the Elite 8. I’m riding with Jay, unless that’s on the back of a motorcycle. Too soon?
Finally, who will cut the nets down in Atlanta?
HM: I don’t know, man. I always hate taking one of the favorites like Louisville or Indiana this year. I once picked Georgia Tech to win it all and even though they came up one game short I felt like the most brilliant man in the universe. So screw it, I’m picking Michigan to win it all. They seem like they are good at scoring and you have to score to win, right? Go blue.
JS: You mean besides Ludacris? Louisville and Indiana seem to be the favorite this year. I’m feeling saucy though, so give me Tom Izzo and Michigan State to survive the Region of Death in the Midwest and win the whole damn thing. B1G or die.
LCP: The Buckeyes are my pick. As much as I can’t stand Aaron Craft, he is the perfect college basketball player. He’s white. Check. He is a 4.00 student. Check. He tries way too hard. Check. I could go on for hours with this. They have a go-to scorer in Deshaun Thomas and play tough, hard nosed defense which will carry them a long way.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules, gentlemen. Now get back to watching old “One Shining Moment” videos on YouTube.