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Boeheim, Beilein Battle As Syracuse Faces Michigan In Final Four

Posted by Washington Tucker on 4/1/2013 7:47:37 PM

The Final Four gives coaches a full week to prepare a game plan for an opponent. Which coach - Syracuse's Jim Boeheim or Michigan's John Beilein - will have the right answer?

Syracuse Orange vs. Michigan Wolverines - Saturday, April 6
Betting line: Michigan -2.5

Why Syracuse Will Win

Legal online sports betting analysts know that Syracuse’s defense is putting up a brick wall, one that opposing offenses simply can’t scale. The Orange, under head coach Jim Boeheim, have executed their 2-3 zone defense to perfection in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse has length at almost every position on the floor (Brandon Triche being the only real exception), which means that the Orange’s guards can pinch shooters at the top of the key and on the wings, closing down on shooting hands and contesting shots with great regularity.

The whole key to solving the 2-3 zone is to get the ball to the free throw line, where a player - normally a big man - can either shoot a 15-foot jump shot or draw the defense and then make a pass to a cutter on the baseline. Getting the ball to the foul-line or elbow areas on the court can cause a zone defense to collapse, but Michigan big man Mitch McGary has operated near the rim in this tournament more than as a face-up player 15 feet from the basket.

Michigan faces a very real challenge in terms of its deployment of players, and the Wolverines have settled for deep three-point shots on many occasions this season. It’s easy to envision a scenario in which Michigan takes and misses a lot of long jumpers, giving Syracuse its preferred outcome on Saturday.

Why Michigan Will Win

When NCAA football betting gurus – who are looking for something to handicap over the next few months before the 2013 pigskin season begins – catch a look at this basketball battle, they will realize that while Michigan is unlikely to break down Syracuse’s 2-3 zone with its bigs, it can solve the zone with dribble penetration. In the person of Trey Burke, Michigan has one of the elite players in all of college basketball. Burke, whose 35-foot jumper with under five seconds left saved Michigan from defeat in the Sweet 16 against Kansas, is the heart of the Wolverines’ offense.

McGary is the X-factor and a player who has been brilliant over the past two weeks, but Burke is the unquestioned superstar on the roster. Burke’s quickness and ballhandling ability will enable him to advance the ball near the free throw line and force Syracuse defenders to cut him off. Burke is part of a Michigan team which has the shooters needed to bust the Orange’s zone, but his best contributions in this game will be as a penetrator and passer, not as a shooter. Michigan head coach John Beilein struggled against Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse teams when serving as the head coach of West Virginia (when West Virginia was a Big East school), but he now has the kind of player - Burke - who can change the equation.

Who Will Win

It’s likely that this game will be close for the duration. Syracuse's defense is rarely easy to solve, and Michigan will probably need one half to get used to it, but the Wolverines have the point guard, Trey Burke, that can figure out the 2-3 in the second half. Michigan should pull this game out.

College Basketball Betting Pick: Michigan



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