FanPost

How to almost beat Syracuse

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

I would love to write about how to beat Syracuse, but since no one has done it I am going to assume it is not possible. What is possible is to lose to them by less than 6 points. 5 teams have accomplished this tremendous feat and one of those teams has done it twice. That team and Duke had Syracuse beat but were foiled by the Orange under some extreme circumstances. Pitt lost on a last second Tyler Ennis running 3-pointer between two defenders. Duke lost in OT in the carrier dome, but probably got screwed just a bit.

So I decided that I would make a sweet-ass spreadsheet of some key stat categories to see what the Pack needs to do to be the next team to lose to Boeheim's Boys by a respectable margin. I picked some obvious stats (efg%, TO% etc.) as well as some that basketball people typically associate with upsets (3p%, 3pd%, FTrate, keeping the score low).

PntTotal

Efg%

TO%

Oreb%

Dreb%

FT Rate

3p%

3pd%

A/FGM

Syr Efg%

Syr To%

St. Francis

106

47.7%

24.5%

36.0%

55.3%

34.9%

38.5%

30.0%

55.6%

37.3%

15.2%

St Johns

131

38.4%

14.0%

28.9%

84.6%

46.4%

6.7%

4.8%

47.6%

55.7%

17.7%

Miami

93

48.9%

9.9%

20.0%

57.1%

23.9%

52.9%

47.7%

66.7%

50.0%

9.8%

Pitt 1

113

43.6%

19.9%

41.4%

82.6%

48.9%

35.7%

27.8%

55.6%

56.1%

16.9%

Duke

180

53.5%

11.0%

35.0%

57.7%

23.6%

41.7%

50.6%

64.5%

60.2%

11.1%

Pitt 2

114

42.0%

20.5%

46.9%

78.3%

38.0%

31.6%

32.1%

83.3%

50.0%

15.2%

Average

123

45.7%

16.6%

34.7%

69.3%

36.0%

34.5%

32.2%

62.2%

51.6%

14.3%

Unfortunately this doesn't exactly produce a blueprint. Other than keeping the score low (outside of the Duke game the average total points was 111), there isn't much of a pattern. So let's see how each team managed their moral victory:

THE DUKE WAY?: The first thing we can do is ignore the Duke way. There are a few reasons, but I do this mainly because Duke is a really good team and a win wouldn't have been much of an upset. Also, they are an exceptional 3p shooting team with at least 6 guys that can hit 3's consistently and 3-4 guys that are as good as anyone in the ACC.
THE DUKE WAY: We aren't them and we can't do what they can do, so let's ignore this game.

THE MIAMI WAY?: The only non-Duke team to use the 3 to stay with Cuse was Miami. They hit a ridiculous 53% of their tries and got an equally ridiculous 48% of their points from deep. But that is not the whole key to the Miami Way. There were only 93 points scored in this game. Miami only hit 10 2-point shots and only took 4 (FOUR!) free-throws. Obviously the Canes played some good D, but Cuse has some flukey bad shooting. So...
THE MIAMI WAY: Hit all your 3's, keep the score low, hope Cuse is cold.

THE PITT WAY?: I am going to put both of these games into one category because they were similar performances and because I am lazy. Pitt turned the ball over too much to win these, but they did most everything else well. The main thing they did was to DOMINATE the boards. They grabbed almost half their misses in the 2nd game and 41.4% in the 1st. As impressive as that is, they were equally as bad-ass on the other end averaging about 80%.
THE PITT WAY: GIMME THAT DAMN REBOUND!, be solid everywhere else.

THE ST. JOHNS WAY?: This one is weird. Their defensive numbers aren't impressive and they only hit 1 of 15 from deep. They did get to the line a lot and hit 20 of their 26 attempts. They also got 6 more offensive boards than the Orange. They were doomed by bad shooting though. Karl Hess was there. That probably didn't help.
THE ST. JOHNS WAY: Um. Play well and, um, hope Syracuse misses 3-pointers and free-throws.

THE ST. FRANCIS WAY? I dare you to look at this box score and tell me how St. Francis stayed in this game. It makes no sense. But it makes total sense when you see that St. Francis stopped scoring with 4:10 left in the game. They had 50-points with 4:10 left in the game and went into the locker room with that same 50 points. In that 4:10 they missed 4 shots, missed 2 free-throws, and turned the ball over 4 times.
THE ST. FRANCIS WAY: Lets not do it this way. I would rather lose by 20 30 all the points.

I think we have a shot at the Pitt way. Anyone has a shot at the St. Johns, Miami, or St. Francis way since they were all kind of flukes. So we either need to own the boards while playing a complete game...or stumble into it. I'm up for either.

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