SU faces No. 12-seed California in third round

Two similar teams face off in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

The Syracuse Orange will take on a tough opponent in the California Golden Bears in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, after being handed a 48-point victory over the Montana Grizzlies Thursday night.

The Bears (20-11, 12-6 Pacific 12) have a very similar team to the Orange. California is similarly sized, has similar records, employs a successful zone defense and has an almost identical shooting percentage. Syracuse shoots slightly better from beyond the arc, but Cal shoots marginally better from the charity stripe.

Syracuse should have and advantage as far as depth. The Bears' top two players – junior guards Allen Crabbe (18.7 points-per-game, 6.1 rebounds-per-game) and Justin Cobbs (15.4 points-per-game, 4.8 assists-per-game) – are incredible performers, but the Bears offensively productive players seem to drop off there. Crabbe and Cobbs are the only players on the team in double-digits for points-per-game, while Syracuse brings four (Brandon Triche, CJ Fair, James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams).

Watch for the competition between the Bears' big men, junior Richard Solomon (8.5 points-per-game, 6.6 rebounds-per-game) and sophomore David Kravish (8.0 points-per-game, 7.0 rebounds-per-game) and the combination of CJ Fair, James Southerland and Rakeem Christmas. They match up size-wise, but each team brings a different style of offensive play. Also watch out for Baye Moussa Kieta, who is coming off a phenomenal all-around Big East tournament. Kieta will look to keep his defensive prowess going against one of the larger big men teams the Orange have faced.

The clear-cut difference between these two teams is in three pointers. Syracuse has made 87 more three-point field goals, and has two players shooting above 40-percent from three; The Bears don't have any. If the Bears are able to frustrate the Orange with their zone, and contain SU’s outside shooting, this will be a close game. If the Orange is able to spread the court and make their shots, this one could be over quickly.

The Orange and Golden Bears tip-off on Saturday at 9:40 pm.

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