Sunday, March 22, 2009

UNC in tough South Regional

Syracuse continued the Big East's dominance of the NCAA Tournament and ended Herb Sendek's return with a 78-67 win over Arizona State on Sunday to move on to the Sweet 16.

The Cuse (3) joins Oklahoma (2), UNC (1) and Gonzaga (4) in the chalky South Regional in Memphis, which starts on Friday. The Cuse faces Oklahoma and UNC gets Gonzaga. Strong regional, much stronger than the Louisville-Washington State-Tennessee pod from Charlotte last year.

UNC will have its hands full in the Final Eight, assuming it takes care of Gonzaga in the Round of 16, because Syracuse has some bigs to support guards Johnny Flynn and Eric Devendorf and shooter Andy Rautins gives the Orange a lot of perimeter options.

UNC should start working the Orange's 2-3 zone now. With their usual length on the baseline, the Cuse will make life awfully difficult for both Oklahoma's Blake Griffin and UNC's Tyler Hansbrough.

The last time Roy Williams saw Syracuse's zone in the tournament, it was in the 2003 championship game. Syracuse beat Kansas 81-78 in New Orleans in Williams' final game with Kansas.

With Syracuse's win Sunday, the Big East has three teams (Villanova, UConn) in the Sweet 16 with three more teams (Pitt, Louisville and Marquette) still with a chance to join them.

The Big East sent a record three teams to the Final Four in 1985. Given the way Syracuse is playing -- and UConn's performance on Saturday -- the Big East could take all four spots in Detroit in two weeks. -- J.P. Giglio


Anonymous said...

Congrats Heels! Fourth Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last NINE years! Continuing the tradition of excellence!