Syracuse beat Marquette 55-39 to advance to the Final Four today, and all the postgame conversation is about one thing: the Orange’s suffocating defence.
Syracuse is one of the only teams that exclusively plays a 2-3 zone. They specifically recruit tall players to make that zone tough to play against, and it’s paying off right now.
The Cuse has allowed 34, 60, 50 and 39 points in the tournament so far. Indiana — the best offensive team in college basketball during the regular season, according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats — only mustered 50 points against them. And Marquette (ranked 19th in offensive efficiency) only scored 39 points in the regional final.
30. Nine. Points. And they only made 12 shots in 40 minutes!
Here’s the sad, sad Marquette shot chart (via ESPN Stats & Info):
ESPN Stats & InfoIt’s the fewest points Marquette has scored all year. In Syracuse’ four NCAA Tournament game so far, they’ve held opponents to their season-low scoring total three times.
Part of the reason that the zone is so good is because college teams, generally, don’t have multiple three-point shooters. The zone is perfect against penetration, but it’s weak against strong three-point shooting teams. And lethal shooting teams are hard to come by in college hoops.
But still, what Syracuse is doing right now is insane.
They are the tallest team in the NCAA Tournament, which makes their zone borderline impenetrable. And all those long, tall guys are straight-up suffocating smaller opponents..
Things will get more interesting if they play a good shooting team like Florida in the next round. But for now, Syracuse’s defence is the most dominant unit in college hoops.
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