11:15 a.m. Saturday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh
CBS (Chs. 5, 13); WHB (810 AM)
The Wildcats won a tough game against Southern Mississippi in their NCAA Tournament opener, and feel confident heading into the round of 32. Rodney McGruder scored 30 points against the Golden Eagles and Jordan Henriquez had a terrific defensive game. K-State has played well against zone defenses this season, but haven’t shot the ball well from the outside. That might need to change against Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone.
•ABOUT SYRACUSE (32-2):
The Orange are coming off a close win over 16th-seeded North Carolina Asheville, which might have won if not for some questionable calls late. But Syracuse was without 7-footer Fab Melo, who was ruled ineligible before the NCAA Tournament. Scoop Jardine is a talented guard who has scored more than 1,000 points in his career. Kris Joseph leads Syracuse with 13.8 points per game. The Orange’s zone defense is similar to Baylor’s.Frontcourt
Jordan Henriquez is on a roll right now. He should be the best big man on the floor today. But he will need help from Jamar Samuels, who scored one point against Southern Mississippi. Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita are capable big men.Edge >> K-State Backcourt
Scoop Jardine is a talented guard and so is Dion Waiters. They will be helped by small forward Kris Joseph. Rodney McGruder is playing great for K-State, and Angel Rodriguez played well against Southern Mississippi. Will Spradling has struggled lately, though.Edge >> Push Bench
Syracuse is a deeper team than K-State. The Orange have seven players who average 6.8 points or more per game.Edge >> Syracuse Coaching/intangibles
Jim Boeheim has won 888 games and owns a national title. Frank Martin has never lost an opening game in the NCAA Tournament. Both are quality coaches, but Boeheim is a Hall of Famer.Edge >> Syracuse Bottom line
Syracuse is one of the nation’s best teams with or without Fab Melo, but K-State will benefit without him on the floor. If Henriquez and McGruder play as well as they did against Southern Mississippi, the Wildcats will have a great chance to win.