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 Syracuse’s amazing run to the Final Four.
Syracuse defied the odds in the Sweet 16 and handily defeated the Indiana Hoosiers, a favorite to win the whole tournament. They followed that up by dominating Big East foe, Marquette, a team that shredded the 2-3 zone a month ago. The Orange are now in the Final Four for the 5th time in as many decades. On Saturday, Syracuse will go up against Michigan, who is arguably the hottest shooting team in the nation. I’m so excited. I’m so excited. I’m so…scared…
Dudes. We’re going to Atlanta. The ATL. Hotlanta. The Dirty South. Can you believe it? How did this team, pronounced dead less than a month ago, turn it around?
Haggleman Mondays: Don’t say Hotlanta. Don’t do that again. How did this team turn it around, you ask? I don’t really know. As the last few wonderful seconds were ticking away in the Marquette game, Jeezy asked aloud to a room full of overjoyed dudes, “Guys, how did we do it?”, and I didn’t have an answer for him. I still don’t. Is it possible this team just thrives in single elimination formats? If you had told them before game 1 of this season that if they lost one game the season was over, would they have run the table? I’m going to say yes until I’m proven otherwise.
Jeezy Sanchez: I still can not believe it. I’ve played “Welcome to Atlanta” by Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris for 5 days straight. I have counted this team out so many times, but they just keep finding ways to surprise me. How have they done it? Defense. Syracuse is giving up 45.8 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. That is unheard of. Two teams have scored less than 40 points against the Orange. This might be Jim Boeheim’s best defensive team he’s ever had. They are just getting by on the offensive end, and while it would be nice to score in the 70s, you take what you can get.
LCP: After Georgetown ripped out our hearts less than a month ago, I would have bet the house that Syracuse wouldn’t make the Final Four. But by god look what’s happened?!? Sports are crazy! The Orange have made this run in large part to two things: defense and guard play. Even teams who have seen our zone before looked baffled. The activity, the blocks and oh man all those Baye jump balls have given opposing offenses fits. MCW has played his best ball of the season in the tourney and Triche has quietly had a strong postseason (13 pts, 4 rebs, 3 ast.).
Who has been Syracuse’s Most Outstanding Player in this tournament?
HM: The Pig.
Long story short, I received a Syracuse Orange Piggy Bank for Christmas and it never saw the light of day until I saw it lying around on Selection Sunday. I brought that thing to Jeezy’s house before the Indiana game on Thursday and Marquette on Saturday, and it hasn’t failed us yet. Can’t change now… If you’re asking about an actual basketball player on Syracuse? Well that answer is Michael Carter-Williams. That dude’s been playing out of his mind on both ends of the floor. We always knew he was a great defender after leading the country in steals, but now he’s the straw that’s stirring out drink on the offensive end. He’s making better decisions on when to shoot in the paint when he gets by his man, and he’s 5 for his last 11 from 3. Has he figured out his jump shot? Please God I hope the answer is yes.
JS: Michael Carter-Williams and it’s not even close. He is a different player in the NCAA Tournament. I’ve done a complete 180 on MCW, mainly because he is finally playing like a point guard should. He is driving to the lane instead of settling for jumpers, and playing incredible defense. Don’t get it twisted, Brandon Triche is not the leader of this team, MCW is. We go as he goes. He’s solidified his spot in the NBA Draft, so enjoy the last moments with him while you can.
LCP: Carl J.R. Keith Fair. I bet you guys didn’t know CJ’s middle name was Keith. Anyways, he’s been steady in the tournament like he’s been all year. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and that’s pretty valuable. Syracuse has had some pretty good forwards over the years and I think it’s time we start mentioning Carl in the same breath as Billy Owens, Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and T-Rob. Wait, how did you get in there?
Obligatory Baye Moussa Keita question. Your first reaction to this? In GIF form please.
Syracuse will meet John Beilein’s Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night. How can the Orange keep this momentum going and advance to the title game?
HM: I’ve learned this year that too many people make snap judgments based on 3 point shooting percentage in a matchup against a zone. Indiana had 4 players that shot better than 40% from 3, yet they never really challenged Syracuse and ended up making just 3 out of 15 attempts from long distance. Why did they struggle? Well, what people can’t see in shooting percentages is the ability to create open shots that almost always lead to a better shooting percentage. Syracuse has been exceptional this year in defending the perimeter, holding opponents to 28.2% from 3 on the season and 15% during this Tournament. So I’m not nearly as worried about Trey Burke, Nick Stauskas, and Tim Hardaway Jr. shooting over the zone as I am worried about Burke finding ways through the zone to get the whole gang open shots which they’ll make. AND THEN you gotta rebound. ‘Cause Mitchy McGary is a very, very rich man’s Jack Cooley.
JS: Keep playing outstanding defense, score 70 points and hope Michigan’s NBA team has an off night. The Wolverines can kill you from all 5 positions. I’m most worried about Trey Burke penetrating the zone and finding Hardaway Jr. and Stauskas on the wing. Syracuse shut down Cody Zeller, and I think Mitch McGary can be handled the same way. CJ Fair needs to find his shooting stroke and MCW has to play out of his mind. We can beat anybody the way we are playing.
LCP: There’s two keys I think to beating Michigan. #1: SCORE. Offense hasn’t been this teams calling card, but Saturday night they will have to put up 70-75 points to make this happen. Big Blue has too much offensive talent not to score over 65. If we can hit a couple perimeter jumpers [crosses fingers] I think that opens the lane for MCW to drive on a smaller defender in Burke and for CJ/Baye/Rak to finish on dunks/awkward layups. #2 REBOUND. Mitch McGary is a one thick son of a bitch. He has averaged nearly 12 rebounds in the tournament and a good amount have come on the offensive glass. Robinson Jr. is a good athlete who can create second chance points, which would spell disaster for the Cuse. This is all assuming they miss in the first place… [gulp]
Prediction Time: Will Syracuse beat Michigan? If so, who do they see on Monday night, Louisville or Wichita State?
HM: Boeheim is 9-0 on his career vs. John Beilein. If you didn’t know that, then you don’t know your business. But it isn’t really about the coaches at this point in the season. Though Beilein has never beaten Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, he certainly knows how to attack it. It’s on the players now to go out there and execute, and I just think Syracuse’s defense will come through again, and their offense will be able to score enough to get by the Wolverines. Michigan has a bunch of defenses they can play (man, 1-3-1 zone), but none of them are very good… For the other game, I don’t think Wichita has any chance now with this whole Kevin Ware thing. That Louisville team has the Dillon Panthers-post Jason Street thing going for them, and I just don’t see them tripping up against the Shockers.
JS: I don’t see why not. This team has defied the odds. On March 9th, they laid the single biggest turd in Syracuse history in the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. On March 30th, they cut down the nets in the very same building. I can’t bet against this team. Like Rick Vaughn wanted Jack Parkman in Major League II, I want Louisville. I will also take Wichita State because who the hell cares just win baby!
LCP: Here’s another stat for you HM, Jim Boeheim is 3-0 in National Semifinal games. Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. Thanks Jay-Z. Carter-Williams hits a game-winning floater to lift us to the natty championship versus the Louisville Cardinals.
One more thing: Is the Kevin Ware injury the grossest sports moment you have ever seen?
HM: I kid you not, when I saw this live one of my first texts to LCP was, “we have to prevent [Jeezy] from seeing it”. I watched Marcus Lattimore’s, and I was one of the tens of people across the USA to see Derrick Roland’s (click at your own risk) injury live. But without a doubt, that was the worst one I’ve ever seen. If that’s what can happen to a Division 1 athlete who’s merely taking a regular old jump, then I’m never leaving the ground again.
JS: Besides watching the New York Jets play football? [rimshot] I didn’t see it live, but received texts, phone calls and smoke signals telling me not watch. Of course I watched it a few times. It was gruesome and awful and horrible. I have nightmares about that leg.
LCP: Never in my life have I seen anything close to that and I’ve seen my fair share of Quentin Tarantino films. It completely ruined Easter Dinner and every meal I’ve had since thinking about that disaster.