No team plays the zone-defense as well as Syracuse does, on a good day, and there isn’t anyone as good, in the entire nation, on offense and as a team in general, like Indiana, when they’re clicking on all cylinders.
All season long the discussion about who will be the national player of the year came down to two players from the same team – Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. I guess it’ll take the NCAA tournament to give the final answer, if Indiana make it far enough. They haven’t played in the Elite Eight since 2002, a year in which they made it all the way to the final game, losing to Maryland.
For Syracuse, it’s their third Sweet Sixteen in four years, but they haven’t been to the Final Four since that Carmelo Anthony year in 2003, which ended up being their only national title.
For Indiana, despite Zeller being the leading scorer this season, averaging 16.9 points per game, including 15 points in the very hard fought win over Temple in the third round (58-52), Victor Oladipo, the man who does pretty much everything on the floor and many are comparing to Dwyane Wade. Oladipo scored 16 points against Temple, and his ability to cut through the zone defense, not to mention his long arms and ability to get in the passing lanes, is the most important individual talent the Hoosiers need working for them.
While it’s hard to assume anything from their 81-34 win over Montana, the 66-60 beating of California in the next round, a bit after losing to Louisville by 17 points in the Big East final, tells a lot more about this team, and how they need to keep Indiana at a slow pace, while their own three point shooters – James Southerland and Brandon Triche need to have a big day.
Prediction – We’ve been riding Indiana to the title all season, so it’s only fair we stick by them now, even if they haven’t been preforming well all season. The Orange aren’t good for more than 65 points in this kind of game, which means that a good game from both Zeller and Oladipo should be enough to make the Elite Eight.