Indiana was the top ranked team in the preseason, went through large portions of the season as the #1 team, and were expected to contend for the national title. As quickly as Tom Crean could shoot past Jim Boeheim with a handshake, though, Syracuse dashed those thoughts in a dominating performance.
This one reminded of those Duke losses as a #1 seed over the last decade, where a team of shooters was handled by an emerging young team with athletes that could battle and knock them back. Indiana came out disjointed against the Syracuse zone, having more turnovers than shot attempts at one point. Then, even when Indiana settled down, they still could not generate offense. Cody Zeller tried to push through, and was continually rejected. He finished 3 for 10.
Syracuse challenged everything at the rim, finishing with 11 blocks and 11 steals against the team that had been one of the best offensively in the country all year. While Zeller will catch much of the flak, let’s not forget how horribly the entire team played. It would be an insult to non-factors to say that Indiana’s starting backcourt was. Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell scored a combined zero points, 0-7 shooting, 6 turnovers.
The other end of the floor, Michael Carter-Williams looked like the top level pro prospect and the best player on the floor. Carter-Williams finished with 24 points and continually found driving opportunities, to go along with 4 steals.
Now, we get future ACC versus future new Big East in one final Big East matchup between Syracuse and Marquette.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]