It may be a surprise to some, but Syracuse is dancing. The Orange kick-off their 2016 NCAA tournament on Friday with a first-round game against the Dayton Flyers. This game is a rematch of the round of 32 game in 2014 which saw the Flyers upset the Orange to advance to the Sweet 16. If the Orange want to avenge to 2014 loss, there are a few couple they have to do.
Don’t Turn the Ball Over
This isn’t exactly a novel idea. However, it has to be said because the Flyers are one of the best teams in the nation at forcing turnovers and during the final six games of the season, of which the Orange lost five, Syracuse turned the ball over 13.5 times per game. The Flyers rank 14th in the nation in defensive efficency, allowing under 66 points per game. It is impossible to know which Syracuse offense will show up, but however well they shoot the ball on Friday, they have to limit the turnovers. We very well may be looking at another 55-53 game, like it was in 2014, and if the Orange want to come out on top, they need to hold onto the ball and be as efficient as possible.
Limit Dayton on the Glass
Dayton is consistent. In addition to being 14th in defensive efficiency, the Flyers rank 14th in the nation in defensive rebounding. Syracuse, in general, struggles on the glass. Things have definitely improved on that front for the Orange. Syracuse actually out-rebounded Pitt in their last game. However, in a game where scoring may be limited, it is doubly important to get as many second chances as possible. Someone to watch out for on this front is Dyshawn Pierre, who averages 8.5 rebounds per game. Syracuse might just need Tyler Roberson to wake from his slumber that he has been in for the past few weeks and start grabbing some boards.
Friday is, obviously, a huge game for the Orange and, on paper at least, it is a game that should be very competitive from start to finish. The difference will most likely come from which team does the fundamentals better.