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NCAA Tournament second round: No. 8 Gonzaga v. No. 1 Syracuse

NCAA Tournament second round: No. 8 Gonzaga v. No. 1 Syracuse

by Chris Bach

KREM.com

Posted on March 20, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 20 at 11:52 PM

30 second game guide

Bring’em Out: NCAA Tournament second round:  No. 8 Gonzaga 27-6 (12-2 WCC) vs. No. 1 Syracuse Orange 29-4 (15-3 Big East) at HSBC Arena at 9:10 a.m. PST only on KREM 2.

Watch for: Which team's zone defense is more effective. Jim Boeheim's nationally known for teaching his players to cause fits for offenses when things are clicking on all cylinders. However, the Orange will be without forward Arinze Onuaku, who injured his right leg in the Big East Tournament. Gonzaga's no slouch when it comes to zone defense, but if 'Cuse gets hot from the perimeter, watch out.

Fear: Big East Player of the Year Wes Johnson. The Orange's junior transfer forward has strung together nine-straight double-digit scoring efforts, and averages a near double-double per contest (16 ppg, 8.4 rpg). As Mark Few put it in today's press conference "he can stroke it from three...put it on the deck and finish above the rim, and get others involved with his passing game". That is a nightmare match-up for any team, not just Gonzaga.

Respect: The little guy. We no longer refer to Gonzaga as a "Cinderella Story" in the Tournament, but this match-up with top-seeded Syracuse brings back a blast from the past. Nobody is expecting GU to beat 'Cuse Sunday, but I don't think the media would give it "monumental upset" status. Northern Iowa garnered that kind of attention when it knocked-off the No.1 overall seed in the tourney in Kansas earlier today, giving all the 8/9 seeds hope once again. A one-seed hadn't lost a second round game since Kentucky fell in 2004.

Random Stuff: This is the first-ever meeting between these two teams. Gonzaga is making its 12th straight NCAA Tournament appearance (13th overall) and holds a 15-12 overall record in the Big Dance. Syracuse is making its 33rd appearance in the tourney and has a 51-32 overall record including four Final Fours and a national championship in 2003 (with Carmelo Anthony). The last time Gonzaga faced a No. 1 seed, was a 98-77 loss to eventual national champ North Carolina last year.

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