Syracuse vs Houston Prediction
Syracuse vs Houston Prediction: Two of the best defenses in the nation will collide in the Sweet Sixteen this weekend when the Syracuse Orange take on the Houston Cougars.
HISTORY: These two schools have met once previously. In 1982, Syracuse was able to defeat Houston during the Phi Slama Jama era when the Cougars featured NBA Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, 92-87.
Another March has given us another aspiration tournament run from Jim Boeheim and Syracuse (18-9). The Orange sat on the bubble after a 15-win season, avoided the First Four, and proved why they can be trusted every March. Syracuse has responded by taking out two of the toughest teams in the country in SDSU and West Virginia during the first two rounds. They now will face arguably the most rugged team in the nation when they meet Houston.
Syracuse is led by junior guard Buddy Boeheim. Coach Jim’s son has taken his game to another level over these first two rounds. He’s officially been infused by March, and he’s gone crazy over the first two rounds, totaling 55 points. Boeheim averages 18.1 ppg.
Boeheim has a solid supporting cast surrounding his son. Quincy Guerrier, Marek Dolezaj, and Alan Griffin make up a strong frontcourt. Guerrier is second on the team in scoring (13.9), and he leads the Orange in rebounding (8.6). Dolezaj is a veteran who averages 10.1 ppg, and he grabs 6.1 rpg. Fellow sharpshooter Joe Girard III joins Boeheim up front, and he scores 9.8 points per game.
Houston appears to be in their best for 1982. The Cougars have had the look of a contender all season. They started 10-1, and recorded non-conference wins over Boise State, South Carolina, and Texas Tech before cruising in American Conference play. They ran into some trouble in February with road losses to East Carolina and Wichita State, but they haven’t dropped a game since. Rutgers gave the Cougars a real scare last round, and Syracuse is sure to do the same.
Houston is known for their rugged defense, but they average an impressive 77.4 points per game, and they shoot 44.3% from the field. The Cougars are led by a very talented group of guards. Quentin Grimes leads the team in scoring at 18.1 points per game and a three-point percentage (41.7%). He’s hit four or more threes in each of his past five games, and coach Kelvin Sampson will lean on him to shoot against Syracuse’s historic 2-3 defense.
Sophomore Marcus Sasser is second on the team in scoring (13.3) and assists (2.3). Senior guard Dejon Jarreau is the glue for this Houston team. He averages 10.9 points per game, grabs 5.3 rpg, and he leads the team in assists (4.1). Freshman guard Tramon Mark has come in, adapted, and added to the scrappiness of this defense. All four guards average over one steal per game. Senior Justin Gorham is the man in the middle, and he scores 8.5 ppg and leads the team in rebounding (8.6).
Syracuse vs Houston Prediction & Pick
This matchup is a defensive-minded coach’s dream. The vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone versus the most feared defense in the nation. Expect this to be a low-scoring bout that goes to the wire. It feels like fate to ride with Buddy Boeheim on this one, but Houston has a really good group of battle-tested guys. They possess the best group of guards in the Sweet Sixteen, and guard play is crucial around this time of year. If any group of players could break down this 2-3 zone, it’d be Houston. The Cougars will throw multiple defenders at Boeheim, and we think they get the win today. Bet on Houston to defeat Syracuse.
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