If you thought Siena or Washington played fast, just wait until UMASS enters the Dome Wednesday. They get up and down the court incredibly fast. They average 81 possessions a game which is good enough for 7th most in the country. What does this mean for Syracuse? Well they better be ready to get down court after they score. No admiring the great play they made or standing around in disbelief they didn't get a foul. Now I love the whole crowd involvement thing with the Dynasty symbol as much as anyone else in that student section, but too much celebration is going to get them down, and down in a hurry. Also, with Syracuse's rather small rotation fatigue could become a factor for Syracuse if this becomes a track meet. UMASS has nine players that are seeing significant minutes.
UMASS will give Syracuse fits if Coach Boeheim decides to go with the 2-3 zone. The Minutemen have attempted 132 threes in just five games. That accounts for nearly 44% of their shots. 6 players are averaging 2 attempts from long range a game. For a team that shoots a lot of threes, they do not knock down their free throws, shooting just 67.7% from the charity stripe.
The Minutemen have three offensive threats: Gary Forbes (23 ppg, 7.6 rebounds), Ricky Harris (18.2, .415% from the field), and Etienne Brower (15, 5.5 rebounds). This team lacks a defined point guard that distributes the ball. No Minuteman is averaging more three assists per game.
Here's three things this team doesn't do well: 1. Rebound. They are out rebounded by almost five per game. They are 314th in the nation in offensive rebounding. 2. Free throws, see above. 3. Two point defensive FG%. Their opponents are shooting 52% from inside the arch. A lot of this can be attributed to their fast play allows opponents easy baskets in transition.
My final prediction: Syracuse 89, UMASS 84.
This is a side note, but I've been watching Wake Forest for the first time since Skip Prosser's death. Wake Forest looks pretty good under Dino Gaudio, but then it's pretty easy to look good when their opponent Iowa can't score. At all. Period, Iowa just can't score. They really miss Adam Haluska and it doesn't really seem like they are buying into new headcoach Todd Lickliter's new grind it out slow it down system. Lickliter's Butler teams averaged under 10 turnovers a game, best in the nation last year. In the first half of this game, Iowa turned it over 14 times already. The Hawkeyes are playing good defense under him which is a staple of Lickliter.