The Wildcats really played a great game to get here in the second full round of the tourney. They had some real moments of brilliance on the court, but they also had some suspect moments against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in the 8/9 game in the East Bracket. The man of the hour was clearly Rodney McGruder, who came out of the blocks on fire and just never let down. He only had a few minutes on the bench for the whole game, yet he was always the man that was taking the big time shots. In the end, McGruder put up 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting, and he knocked down both of the team’s three point baskets. That is something that is definitely going to have to improve to beat the ‘Cuse, though. The rest of the squad went just 0-of-7 from beyond the arc. Jordan Henriquez and Angel Rodriguez both reached double digits in scoring with 15 and 13 points respectively, but the rest of the team only combined for a total of 11 points, and that definitely isn’t going to cut it.
It’s not all that often that you see a No. 1 seed struggle and struggle mightily with a No. 16 seed. Syracuse is a team that many thought could get a fight from a team like this one in the tourney, but in the end, no one figured that the UNC Asheville Bulldogs would be the team doing the challenging. In fact, Asheville was ahead of the Orange for a good chunk of the game, and in the second half, this was one tight down to the wire. If not for some suspect calls (or non-calls, as the case might have had it), perhaps the ‘Cuse would have been the first team in the history of the dance to lose as a No. 1 to a No. 16. The offense was just off for Syracuse all day. Four players did end up in double digits, but it isn’t often that James Southerland is the man that gets the job done for the boys in orange. No one else hit more than four shots for the Orange on the day, and without the presence of Fab Melo in the middle of the defense, the Bulldogs were only outrebounded by two in the game.
The Final Word: In the end, we just don’t trust the Orange. They aren’t playing well, and they aren’t playing with confidence, and though we do know that Head Coach Jim Boeheim is a fantastic coach, we look around and see what else has happened to some of the teams in the Big East and wonder if the ‘Cuse aren’t the next big team to tumble out of this conference.
Kansas State Wildcats vs. Syracuse Orange Pick: Kansas State Wildcats +5.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.