NCAA Tournament East Preview: #4 Syracuse Orange vs #12 California Golden Bears

2013 NCAA Tournament – East Region Third Round
#4 Syracuse Orange vs #12 California Golden Bears
Saturday, March 23, 2013, 9:40 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
HP Pavilion – San Jose, California
Opening Line: Syracuse -8
Current Line: Syracuse -7
Opening Total: 124
Current Total: 126
Opening Money Line: Syracuse -360 / California +300
Current Money Line: Syracuse -330 / California +280

Syracuse is a 7 point favorite against Cal Saturday in San Jose.

Syracuse is a 7 point favorite against Cal Saturday in San Jose.

The 27-9 Syracuse Orange looked to be a one seed in the NCAA tournament at the end of February. However, the Orange lost 4 of 5 games to close out the regular season. The Orange ended up tied for 5th in the Big East with  Notre Dame with 11-7 records. The Orange did rebound with 3 straight wins in the Big east tournament before losing to Louisville in the Championship game 78-61.

In the NCAA tournament the #4 seeded Syracuse Orange destroyed #13 Montana 81-34 in Thursday’s second round in the East region. It was the largest blowout by a team seeded #3 or lower in the history of the NCAA tournament.

Next up for the Orange is a date with #12 seed California Saturday in San Jose. Cal is 21-11 overall and went 12-6 in the Pac 12. The Golden Bears tied for second in the Pac 12 with Arizona and Oregon. The Golden Bears were seeded third in the Pac 12 tournament  but were upset 79-69 by Utah in overtime in the Pac 12 quarterfinals.

The Golden Bears upset #5 UNLV Thursday. Cal held the rebels to 32% shooting for the game, and took control in the second half after the score was tied at halftime. At one point in the second half UNLV missed 16 straight field goals. The Rebels made a furious comeback but Cal held on for the 64-61 win.

Cal and Syracuse have played just one time in history. The Orange beat the Golden Bears 95-73 in a tournament in Madison Square Garden in 2009. The winner of this game will advance to the sweet 16 to play either #1 Indiana or #9 Temple in Washington, DC next week.

Syracuse is coached by Jim Boeheim. The Orange have losses to Temple in Madison Square Garden, at Villanova, at Pittsburgh, at Connecticut, Georgetown twice, Louisville twice, and Marquette. The Georgetown loss snapped a 38 game home winning streak for Syracuse. The Orange have key wins over San Diego St on an aircraft carrier, Princeton, at Arkansas, Eastern Michigan Long Beach St, and Detroit. In conference Syracuse has home wins over Rutgers, Villanova, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, St. John’s, and Providence, along with road wins at South Florida, Providence,   Louisville, and Seton Hall. The Orange are 18-14 ATS and the total is 14-16 this season.

Syracuse is outscoring teams 72-60 this season. The Orange are #31 in points allowed.  Syracuse is shooting 44.1% from the field and 33.1% from 3 point range. The Orange make 68.3% of their free throws. Syracuse averages 38.7 rebounds per game and allows 30.3 to opponents. Syracuse is #21 in rebounding nationally. Orange opponents are shooting 37.6% from the field and 29.8% from 3 point range. Syracuse is in the top twenty nationally in both categories. The Orange average 15 assists, 9 steals, 6 blocks and 12 turnovers a game.

Brandon Triche averages 13.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. C.J. Fair averages 14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block a game. James Southerland averages 14 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block per game. He missed  6 games due to being ineligible. Michael Carter-Williams averages 12 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.8 steals a game.  Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Trevor Cooney, Baye Keita and Jerami Grant make up the rest of the rotation.

California is coached by Mike Montgomery. Cal has losses at Wisconsin, UCLA, Stanford twice, Colorado, Arziona St and home losses to UNLV, Creighton, Harvard, and Washington. The Bears have lost two straight after a 7 game game winning streak.   The Golden Bears have key wins at home over Pepperdine, UC-Santa Barbara, and Washington St, Oregon and Oregon St twice, Arizona, USC twice, UCLA, Utah, and Colorado and against Drake, Georgia Tech and Pacific in a tournament in Anaheim. Cal is 13-16-1 ATS and the total is 9-17 this season.

Cal is outscoring teams 68-64 this season. The Bears are shooting 44.6% from the field and 30.4% from 3 point range. California is #308 out of 347 teams in three point shooting. Cal makes 72.5% of their free throws. The Golden Bears  average 37.2 rebounds per game. The Bears give up 31.3 rebounds per game. California opponents are shooting 39.6% from the field and 33.6% from 3 point range. The Bears average  14 assists, 6 steals, 5 blocks, and 13 turnovers per game.

Guard Allen Crabbe averages 18.7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. Guard Justin Cobbs averages 15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Forward Richard Solomon averages 8.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Forward David Kravish averages 8.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, an assist, and 1.7 blocks per game. Guard Tyrone Wallace averages 7.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. Robert Thurman also gets significant minutes. Forward Christian Behrens is out for the season with a knee injury.

Cal is 5-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 22-8-1 in Saturday games, 2-5 in NCAA tournament games, 2-6 against Big East teams, 3-11-1 after a cover, and 1-5 in non-conference games.

Syracuse is 8-2 ATS in non-conference games, 7-3 after a straight up win of 20 points or more, and 0-4 in Saturday games.

Both Jim Boeheim and Mike Montgomery are in the top 10 for wins among active coaches. Cal could struggle against Syracuse’s vaunted zone defense that held Montana to 20% shooting from the field. The Grizzlies had been averaging over 70 points a game for the season. If Crabbe and Cobbs can figure out a way to penetrate the zone, then Cal has a shot. If they can’t it will be another Syracuse blowout. Expect a heavily partisan Cal crowd only an hour away from their campus. I think Cal keeps it interesting for a while but Syracuse pulls away late.

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