Monday, March 15, 2010

Syracuse fares well on Selection Sunday

This bracketologist likes the hand Syracuse has been dealt. A No. 1 seed in a weak-by-comparison West region, plus the potential of two games at home-away-from-home HSBC Arena in Buffalo should get the Orange into the Sweet 16. And by that time, injured center Arinze Onuaku might be healthy enough to be a factor again.

It also doesn't hurt that the NCAA basketball selection committee has SU opening against a Vermont program that bounced the Orange men from the tournament in the first round in 2005.

Even without Onuaku - his strained right knee makes him doubtful for Friday's opener - Syracuse has an excellent shot of beating the 16th-seeded Catamounts. And I like the Cuse's chances against the winner of Gonzaga and Florida State in Sunday's second-round game because of the havoc SU's 2-3 zone can wreak against teams more familiar with man-to-man defenses. Remember the problems the Orange zone caused those Big 12 Conference teams during SU's march to the national championship in '03? The same could be true in this tournament.

It could, though, get interesting should Big East rivals SU and Pitt meet in the regional finals. The Panthers did an excellent job dissecting the Orange defense in a victory against the Cuse at the Dome earlier this season. Syracuse definitely will need Onuaku back and functioning well in order to beat Pitt and advance to the Final Four.

I agree with the selection committee's choice of Kansas as the top overall seed, but the bracketologists certainly didn't give the Jayhawks an easy path to Indianapolis. The Midwest appears to be the stacked region, with Michigan State, Georgetown and Ohio State all potential roadblocks between Kansas and the Final Four.

At first glance, I believe Duke has the easiest path to Indy of the top seeds.

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