Sweet 16 Picks
Syracuse vs Butler
The Syracuse Orange was met with a chorus of criticism after losing their final two Games before the NCAA Tournament. Was the negative talk justified? We dont think so as the Orange has cruised to the Sweet Sixteen despite having to play without Arinze Onuaku. They will meet a ferociously competitive team in their next Game; the Butler Bulldogs. It promises to be their toughest Game thus far in the Big Dance. Butler is riding a 22 Game win streak behind the strength of a young starting lineup. It will be interesting to see who will take the top honors and advance to the Elite Eight.
Top Sportsbooks have Syracuse favored by -7 over Butler with a Total of 138
The Butler Bulldogs havent lost since 12/22 on the road against UAB. The best win in that span during the regular season came against MAAC Champion Siena. They dispatched a wily UTEP team in the first round with a fair bit of ease despite trailing at half time. They were atrocious from the free throw line sinking 18 of 28. Games are won and lost at the charity stripe and Butler must take advantage of those shots. They are called FREE throws after all. G Shelvin MACk was unconscious in the first round sinking 7 of 9 three point attempts for a total of 25 points. Stars Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward were solid with 11 and 13 points respectively.
Butler again found themselves trailing at half time in their second round Game against Murray State. They once again rebounded for a win taking the Game 54-52 over the Racers. The Bulldogs were poor from the free throw line sinking 11 of 19. G Ronald Nored had 15 points from 6-9 shooting. Gordon Hayward added 12 points. Strong defense helped Butler avoid a loss against a Racers team that won 31 Games this year. They cant afford another slow offensive night against Syracuse.
The Syracuse Orange posted a win the first round over the severely overmatched Vermont Catamounts. It was a bit of a revenge Game as the Catamounts shocked Syracuse and sent them home in the first round back in 2005. The Orange won this time around by a score of 79-56. They were strong offensively shooting 54.5% and sinking 9 of 11 free throws. Wes Johnson steadied the team with 18 points. Andy Rautins contributed 11 points and 6 assists. SCoop Jardine added 14 points. Rick Jackson had 12 points and 8 rebounds.
The first round Game didnt tell us much about how good Syracuse is. We know they are stellar because of their record (30-4), and the fact that they dismantled a tough Big East Conference during the regular season. The Orange followed their win over the Catamounts up with a stunningly easy 87-65 victory over Gonzaga. Big East Player of the Year Wes Johnson had a career high 31 points and also grabbed 14 rebounds. Andy Rautins was lights out too. He had 24 points and 4 assists. Arinze Onuaku did not play in this Game and his status for the future is not known at this point. Wes Johnson had a slight injury coming into the Game but proved that it was bothering him.
This should be a great Game between two very good teams. Butler plays strong defense. Syracuse does too and sports a 2-3 style. The return of Onuaku would be big for Cuse, but they can still win handily without him. It would be quite a surprise if Butler was able to win the Game, but they may be able to keep it close and cover the spread of 7. However, we will go the other way. Syracuse has been nearly unstoppable when playing their best ball. We except to see a near perfect Game from them as they march into the Elite Eight.
Predicted Score- Syracuse 72 Butler 62