NCAA Tournament Preview East Region - First Round (14) Indiana State vs. (3) Syracuse

Friday, March 18 - Approximately 9:57 PM ET

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Here’s an irony for you: Syracuse owns a lot of tall trees in the paint, but the Orange will be playing a bunch of Sycamores when the 2011 NCAA Tournament gets underway on Friday night in the northeastern corner of the state of Ohio

Syracuse will play Indiana State in a first round game in the 2011 NCAA tournament on Friday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Orange reach the tournament as a 3-seed after losing to eventual tournament champion Connecticut, 71-76, in the Big East semifinals last Friday night. The Indiana State Sycamores got the automatic bid from the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) after winning the conference tournament championship on March 6, upsetting Missouri State in a 60-56 thriller.

Indiana State averages 66.5 points per game and is led by junior guard Dwayne Lathan with 11 points per game. The Sycamores were picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley this season, but earned their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2001 with the MVC championship upset.  

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This is the fourth appearance in the tournament for Indiana State. It has a 5-3 record in the tournament, losing in the second round to Gonzaga after (as a 13 seed) upsetting fourth seed Oklahoma in overtime in 2001. ISU wound up losing in the first round to fifth seed Texas in the 2000 edition of the Dance. How do the Sycamores have five NCAA wins to their credit? Well, you might recall that they won four games in one tournament, a tournament that merely changed the way college basketball was and is perceived in the United States. Yes, Indiana State lost to Michigan State in the 1979 national championship game, with Magic Johnson’s Spartans defeating Larry Bird’s Sycamores 75-64 in one of the most iconic battles in NCAA tournament history. That year, the NCAAs were a 40-team event with byes given to high seeds. Indiana State’s first game came in the round of 32, which is why ISU made the final with four tournament wins; today, five wins are needed to reach the national championship game.

Back to the present moment: Syracuse has a 52-33 all-time record in the NCAA tournament, winning the 2003 championship under Jim Boeheim over a Roy Williams-coached Kansas squad. SU’s last tourney appearance - one year ago - resulted in an upset loss to fifth-seeded Butler in the Sweet Sixteen (the Orange were the top seed in the West). Boeheim has taken Syracuse to the national championship game three times in his 36 seasons at the helm, losing to Indiana in 1987 and Kentucky in 1996 before winning the title in 2003.

Syracuse averages 73.6 points per game – 60th in the nation – and 33.7 rebounds per game, which is good for 40th in the country. SU’s size near the tin will distract the not-so-tall Sycamores in one of life’s little ironies. Limiting opponents to 39.3 percent shooting from the field, they rank tenth, and with 6.8 blocks per game, the Orange rank second in Division I. At the forward position, Kris Joseph leads Syracuse scoring with 14.4 points per game and Rick Jackson averages 13 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. At guard, Scoop Jardine averages 12.8 points and 5.8 assists per game, and Brandon Triche averages 11.3 points for the Orange.

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer




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