Syracuse looked dominant in last night’s first round matchup vs 6-seeded San Diego State. The Orange shot the lights out of the basketball en route to a 78-62 win in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Orange advance to play old Big East foe, 3-seeded West Virginia in the round of 32 on Sunday afternoon. The Mountaineers emerged in a battle with 14-seeded Morehead State 84-67.
Before we begin to dive into WVU, take a look at some of the miscellaneous stats that have already been circulating around Twitter…
The numbers seem to favor this Orange here. Let’s take a look at some more…
Key Stats Courtesy of Ken Pomeroy
- Score prediction: 78-76 West Virginia win (also had SDSU winning 71-68 so interpret this as you may)
- 10th in the nation in offensive efficiency, scoring 117.2 points per 100 possessions.
- 65th in the country in defensive efficiency, allowing 96.1 points per 100 possessions.
- 212th in the nation in effective field goal percentage, averaging 49.1% from the field.
- 13th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. The Mountaineers get offensive rebounds on 35.6% of their possessions.
- 64th in the nation in 3-pt shooting percentage. WVU shoots 36.2% from beyond the arc.
There isn’t much to take away from these numbers because, as previously mentioned, West Virginia has seen little-to-no zone defense this season. San Diego State shot 37% as a team entering Friday night’s contest, but couldn’t find any rhythm offensively. The Aztecs shot 36% from the field and 27.5% from three. Those numbers were heavily aided by garbage time baskets.
WVU is the second best three-point shooting team in the Big 12 conference. Five different Mountaineers convert on at least 35% of their shots from the perimeter. But again, this shooting prowess is unproven against a 2-3 zone.
So shooting success may not carry over in this game, but there is something that can, offensive rebounding. WVU is a much bigger team than SDSU with three major contributors that stand 6’7” or taller. The Mountaineers are also a fairly deep team, much like the Aztecs. West Virginia has eight different plays averaging double digit minutes per contest.
Defensively, WVU is solid and this is a number we can put some stock into. The Mountaineers faced some of the more explosive offenses in college basketball this year in the Big 12. Let’s be clear though, much like Big 12 football, this West Virginia team won with its offense. This favors Syracuse because the high octane offense is unproven and if this game turns into a shootout, SU may be better suited to come out on top.
It should be noted however, that WVU is coached by Bob Huggins who just picked up his 900th career victory. You can be sure he’ll have his team as prepared as possible for this game. With that said, it might be hard to come up with a solid game plan with one day of rest and preparation.
Overall this is another favorable matchup for the ‘Cuse. West Virginia is a bigger team than SDSU and can shoot it about as well, but the Orange have seen big teams before this season. Think of North Carolina which led the nation in offensive rebounding. Syracuse took care of business against the Heels the second time around.
West Virginia has a solid resume that continues to look better and better as the tournament unfolds. WVU owns wins over VCU, North Texas (who just upset 4-seed Purdue), and Georgetown. One thing’s for sure, if Buddy Boeheim continues to put up 30 pieces, it doesn’t matter who Syracuse plays.