Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim insisted a reported NCAA investigation into the school’s athletic department would not affect his team negatively. And he was right.
The No. 4 Orange coasted to victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and now faces No. 12 California Saturday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose in the Round of 32.
CBSSports.com published a report citing sources that alleged infractions could be “major and wide-ranging in nature”, though Boeheim did not answer questions about the report.
Syracuse remained focused and downed Montana 81-34 thanks to Brandon Triche relentlessly attacking the basket for 20 points, and Michael Carter-Williams dropping nine assists to go along with eight rebounds.
C.J. Fair also notched 13 points, and DaJuan Coleman led the bench with 12 points and six rebounds.
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Overall the Orange shot 52 percent from the field, and made 22 of their 31 free throw attempts.
That kind of efficiency might shake some teams, but Cal has already mauled a top seed this tournament.
The Golden Bears upset fifth seeded UNLV 64-61 in the second round, after holding the Rebels scoreless for 11 straight minutes in the second half. Junior guard Allen Crabbe scored 19 points and totaled nine rebounds and four assists, while Cal’s defense kept UNLV to a porous 19-for-59 shooting.
However that’s been a trend for the Bears all season, with opponents barely cracking 39 percent from the floor.
The winner moves to play either No.1 Indiana or No. 9 Temple.
Cal has the chance to make its first Sweet 16 since 1997, and won their first tournament game since 2010.
The game tips-off at 9:40 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by TBS, or watch a free live online stream at the NCAA March Madness official site here.
Betting Odds: Syracuse is favored by 7 points.
Over/Under: 126 points
Prediction: Syracuse played through some rough shooting spells this season, and might have another against the Bears. Success for the Orange is largely on Carter-Williams’s shoulders, and if he takes care of the ball, they should advance.
Predicted Score: Syracuse 62, California 57