At the start of the season, the Indiana Hoosiers were considered the favorite to win the 2013 NCAA Tournament. .
Led by National Player of the Year candidate Tyler Zeller, Indiana remained one of the top teams in the country for the entire season. Victor Oladipo also emerged as one of the brightest stars in college basketball, and the team finished the year with the best record in the Big Ten.
As the No.1 seed in the East Region, the Hoosiers are looking to cut down the nets in the title game for the first time since 1987. In that contest, Keith Smart hit a game-winning shot with one second left to defeat Syracuse. On Thursday, the two teams will meet again in March Madness.
The No.4 Orange will look to upset the Hoosiers in the East Region Semifinal. Tip-off is scheduled for approximately 9:45 p.m. ET in Washington D.C., following the tilt between Miami and Marquette. CBS will air the game, but viewers can watch a free live stream online at ncaa.com.
While Indiana entered the tourney as one of the favorites, Syracuse began the NCAA tournament under a cloud of controversy. A day before the field of 64 began, a report stated that the NCAA was investigating the school’s athletic programs for violations.
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Despite the news surrounding the team, Jim Boeheim’s squad breezed through the first few rounds. They dropped No.13 Montana by 47 points. In their next matchup, Syracuse took care of no.12 California 66-60, leading for almost the entire game.
During March Madness, the Orange have continued to play as one of the best defensive teams in Division 1 basketball. They’ve allowed their tournament opponents to shoot just 30 percent from the field.
The Sweet Sixteen matchup will be a battle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone against the, sometimes, unstoppable offense of Indiana. Only two teams in Division 1 basketball score more than the Hoosiers’ 80 points per game. Zeller and Oladipo lead the team with a combined 30.3 points a game, with both players shooting 57.1 and 59.4 percent from the field, respectively.
Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell admitted that SU’s defensive look could give the team some trouble.
''No one plays a 2-3 zone the whole 40 minutes. We've never seen that before,'' Ferrell said. ''You may think that a pass is there, and it's not there the next second. You may throw it and get a turnover.''
Syracuse may not have the stars that Indiana boasts, but they rely on a core of experienced players. C.J. fair, Brandon Triche, James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams all average at least 11.8 points per game.
At times, the Orange have been stagnant on offense and unable to hit their shots. This has caused them to have a few dismal offensive performances, like when they scored 39 points against Georgetown in the regular season finale.
The point spread at most Las Vegas casinos have Indiana favored by 5.5 points. The Hoosiers were heavy favorites in their third round game with Temple, but squeaked by with a six-point victory.