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Syracuse Will Be The First No. 1 Seed To Lose PDF Print E-mail
Written by VT Sports Network News Feed   
Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Source: Storming the Floor Article

The Orange stumbles into the NCAA Tournament having lost its last two games and its starting center. Many saw little love from the NCAA selection committee for the "body of work" put in by the Orange, with relegation to the West Region, the lowest of the four No. 1 seeds, and a date with a ghost of March past: the Vermont Catamounts.

A No. 1 seed has never lost in the first round, but is the perfect storm brewing?

Reason 1: The Orange love to bust brackets from the top down. In 1991, Syracuse set March Madness off on its crazy course, losing to No. 15 seed Richmond before the first national TV audience for the opening rounds. Since then these four days each year have seen CBS and the NCAA rake in gobs of cash, production at American businesses plummet, Rick Neuheisel lost a football job for betting on basketball, and everyone knows Gonzaga. And Syracuse again was burnt by Cinderella, losing as a No. 4 seed to NO. 13 Vermont in overtime, 60-57.

Reason 2: Just one blustery Gus creates a storm. The unofficial voice of the NCAA opening-round upset, CBS play-by-play man Gus Johnson, will be in Buffalo to call this game. Johnson and color man Len Elmore were in Texas that fateful day in 2004, and surely will come prepared to wake up weary East Coast viewers when this enormous shoe drops at 11:45 p.m. See below for another returning cast member from the Tom Brennan going-away party that day.

Reason 3: Marqus Blakely. 'Rarified air' does the Vermont senior, the two-time America East Player of the Year and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, little justice. Think he can't jump with SU fliers Kris Joseph and Wes Johnson? Watch this:

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Reason 4: Brothers know best. The 2010 Big East Sixth Man of the Year is Syracuse forward Kris Joseph, the Manu Ginobilli of college basketball. His first-step is nearly unstoppable and the Orange have much faith in Joseph's ability to breakdown defenders. So much that he is trusted with the ball in late-game situations (did you see him cross over Greg Monroe in Washington, D.C.). K-Jo's all-time nemesis is embedded in the Catamounts' lockerroom in the form of older brother Maurice, the second-leading scorer (14.1 per game) and top outside shooter (38% from 3-point land) for Vermont.

Reason 5: Turnovers. No one is ever out of a game against Syracuse (15.1 giveaways per contest), especially against the zone defense that invites the opponent to bomb away with the great equalizer. David needs that trey ball (see Bryce Drew, Drew Nichols, Kyle Korver, Wally Szcerbziak) to slay Goliath, and Syracuse begs you to take the shot.

Reason 6: Familiarity in the surroundings. Sure, Syracuse is just over three hours due east, but the Catamounts have already played, and won, in Buffalo, beating the University of Buffalo on Nov. 15. Syracuse's two recent Buffalo connections, Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris are two extreme sides of program history: the former played toward greatness, while the latter couldn't make a lay-up.

Reason 7: The book is out on Syracuse.  Play a triangle-and-two on Andy Rautins and Wes Johnson, be there on the catch, and make both players put the ball on the floor. Rautins rarely gets all the way to the rim, either passing or shooting a turnaround, and Johnson has a sore hand and cannot put three consecutive dribbles together before losing control. Teams that have gone this route have been punished by the hi-low action between two strong posts. But now one (Onukau) will not play. Play Jackson to always go left. He may fake right four times, he's coming back over that right shoulder with a baby hook. Let Kris Joseph shoot long jumpers all day, he hasn't been able to get the ball over the rim all season, and just wait in the lane for Brandon Triche. He's a charge waiting to happen. As for Scoop: the best bet is to talk trash to him immediately and get him to try and make every circus shot. This will drive SU head coach Jim Boeheim crazy, and he'll take over the verbal game for Vermont.

Reason 8: The most fired up person is sitting on the bench wearing a suit and carrying a clipboard. In 2004, Gerry McNamera was headed up court with Syracuse down two points in overtime, when he put the ball in his left hand and cut across the middle of the transition. He pulled the ball back briefly to let traffic by and it hit his thigh, bouncing into the backcourt for a violation. G-Mac wants revenge, but for the first time in his life, will need to get it without having the ball in his hands.


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