Syracuse Men's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Syracuse Orange
ACC (27-5, 14-4)


At 25-0, the Syracuse Orange seemed to have everything at their fingertips. The number one ranking in the country was theirs; a number one seed come tournament time was all but assured, as was the possibility of the number one overall seed. But the chips had already begun to show themselves in early February. Back to back one-possession victories over Pittsburgh and North Carolina State (including one on a last-second heave by Tyler Ennis) were hints that this team might not be as bulletproof as once thought. After that, the string of losses began and Syracuse went from championship favorite to just another competitor, in the span of two short weeks.

Big Wins: 12/28 Villanova (78-62), 1/11 North Carolina (57-45), 2/1 Duke (91-89)
Bad Losses: 2/19 Boston College (59-62), 3/1 at Virginia (56-75), 3/4 Georgia Tech (62-67)
Coach: Jim Boeheim (38 seasons at Syracuse)

Why They Can Surprise:
There were valid reasons Syracuse started the year 25-0. They have a splendid defense, using Coach Jim Boeheim's classic 2-3 zone. Guards Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney, who may not ordinarily be household defenders, create havoc at the top of the zone and force steals at an elite rate. With Rakeem Christmas blocking shots in the paint and the zone making it hard for opponents to spot driving lanes, Syracuse worked its way to one of the better scoring defenses in the nation as well as a top-level turnover margin. On the offensive side, Cooney can bomb shots from deep as well as any guard in the country. Teamed with Ennis and All-ACC performer C.J. Fair, Syracuse had perhaps the best trio of outside scorers in the conference. Ennis was really a revelation for the Orange in his freshman season. While not in the conversation entering the year with the likes of Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins as top freshman, Ennis quickly bullied his way into the talk and made a case for having a better overall season than perhaps any of them. Between the steals, the maturity, the heady play and his uncanny assist-to-turnover ratio, Tyler Ennis made himself the star of a veteran club.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Even with great strides taken by sophomore forward Jerami Grant, the frontcourt of Syracuse left much to be desired this season. Dajuan Coleman started games at the beginning of the season but then went down with an injury. While Christmas is a good defender and very efficient scorer, he is almost an afterthought when his team has the ball, grabbing points in just the simplest of ways. The same can be said for Baye Moussa Keita, who is not quite as good on the defensive side but becomes a nonfactor on offense unless he's given a dunk or putback attempt. Much like how Syracuse can disrupt what an opponent wants to do on offense, if their own offense isn't firing perfectly, they struggle to score. In that rough stretch from February through the title showdown against UVA, Syracuse failed to top 61 points for eight consecutive ballgames, even while managing to win five of them.

Probable Starters:
Tyler Ennis, Freshman, Guard, 12.7 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.2 spg
Trevor Cooney, Sophomore, Guard, 12.2 ppg, 1.2 apg
C.J. Fair, Senior, Forward, 16.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Jerami Grant, Sophomore, Forward, 12.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Rakeem Christmas, Junior, Forward, 5.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Baye Moussa Keita, Senior, Center, 1.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Michael Gbinije, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.3 (247th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.3 (9, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.1 (182, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.1 (62, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.0 (289, 12)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.8 (191, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.9 (174, 7)
Rebound Margin: 3.6 (66, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.0 (224, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.0 (4, 1)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2013    NCAA    Second Round win over Montana
2013    NCAA    Third Round win over California
2013    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Indiana
2013    NCAA    Regional Final win over Marquette
2013    NCAA    National Semifinal loss to Michigan
2012    NCAA    Second Round win over UNC Asheville
2012    NCAA    Third Round win over Kansas State
2012    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Wisconsin
2012    NCAA    Regional Final loss to Ohio State
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Indiana State
2011    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Marquette
2010    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Vermont
2010    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Gonzaga
2010    NCAA    Regional Semifinal loss to Butler
2009    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Stephen F Austin
2009    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Arizona State
2009    NCAA    Regional Semifinal loss to Oklahoma
2008    NIT        First Round win over Robert Morris
2008    NIT        Second Round win over Maryland
2008    NIT        Quarterfinal loss to Massachusetts
2007    NIT        First Round win over South Alabama
2007    NIT        Second Round win over San Diego State
2007    NIT        Quarterfinal loss to Clemson

*all team stats through 3/9


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules