WHEN THE WOLVERINES HAVE THE BALL
The key for Syracuse will be to limit transition and set its 2--3 zone. Everything revolves around Trey Burke: He's their distributor, playmaker, scorer. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a catch-and-shoot guy; his percentage goes up when he doesn't dribble. One place Michigan shoots well from is the corner, and that's where you can get open looks against Syracuse.
ATTACKING THE WOLVERINES' DEFENSE
John Beilein is known for his 1-3-1 zone, but he's only played that about 10% of the time this year as a change of pace, to get you out of a rhythm and make you think. Burke will defend sometimes, but not all the time. Nik Stauskas is not a great on-ball defender. They're excellent at taking charges, but they're not a shot-blocking team.
Domes. Syracuse is used to playing in one, so it's really good for the Wolverines that they played in a dome last week in Texas—the raised floor and backdrop make a huge difference.
WHEN THE ORANGE HAS THE BALL
Containing Michael Carter-Williams is the biggest thing, but now that James Southerland is shooting well, there's more space for him to drive. It's so important for the Wolverines' bigs to sprint back; Syracuse looks for alley-oops early, and half of Brandon Triche's threes come in transition. He loves that left side.
ATTACKING THE ORANGE DEFENSE
You have to get into the teeth of the 2--3 zone with dribble penetration or a pass to the high post. After you go inside-out, it's the third pass that gets you a good look. Once the ball goes into the short corner, it's a turnover. The weak link is Carter-Williams; he's a little slow-footed. Forcing him into a close-out situation is what you want.
Triche. I've seen nights when he's had around 30 and others when he played 18 minutes and I didn't know he was out there. When he's invisible they really struggle; when he's good they're running on all cylinders.
9 WICHITA STATE
WHEN THE SHOCKERS HAVE THE BALL
You need to change up your defense—you can't let them get into rhythm. Another key is to box them out. They all fly to the offensive boards. They're not shooting a great percentage from the field, but they use those extra possessions to take your will from you. You have to be a high-level communication team on defense. They run a lot of screen actions, a lot of misdirection plays to try to get you to mess up.
ATTACKING THE SHOCKERS' DEFENSE
They're going to play zone, they're going to trap out of it, they're going to full-court press, they're going to play man-to-man, they're going to try to shrink the floor, play gap help, make you give up the basketball. The one big thing is that you have to drive. You cannot settle for jump shots.
Malcolm Armstead. He's shooting the ball very well, he makes them go in transition and he's a great passer.
WHEN THE CARDINALS HAVE THE BALL
You must pick up early, and your bigs must sprint back on every change of possession. They mix it up in the half-court with multiple ball screens, back screens—and when everything breaks down, they'll go to a flat-ball screen for Peyton Siva or Russ Smith. They'll kill you with second-shot opportunities, especially Chane Behanan.
ATTACKING THE CARDINALS' DEFENSE
You've got to attack their press to score. You must have three ballhandlers. If you don't, it's like blood in the water for sharks. They're going to keep grabbing and fouling. If you don't score off the press, make them guard. Don't take hurried, bad shots.
Gorgui Dieng. If he gets in foul trouble, the loss of his shot blocking, rebounding and defensive presence is huge. Plus, he can make anything from the three-point line in—and when he does, it's a long night.
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GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BURKE)
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (DIENG)
AL TIELEMANS/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TRICHE)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (ARMSTEAD)