NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse +215 Money Line over Indiana

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Indiana is the top seed in the East, but this looks like a nightmarish matchup for the Hoosiers as Syracuse has the tools on defense to take advantage of Indiana’s weaknesses on offense.

There could be an upset in the making in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night when the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers (29-6, 7-2 away) take on the fourth seeded Syracuse Orange (28-9, 5-5 away) at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC at 9:45 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The Money Line at 5 Dimes has Syracuse as the decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +215.

Indiana was a popular choice by many to eventually become the National Champion before this tournament began, but after toying with James Madison in the second round, the Hoosiers had a tough time getting by Temple 58-52 on Sunday, with those 58 points matching their second lowest point output of the season.

Now that performance may have been atypical for a team that earned its top seed by leading the country in offensive efficiency and ranking seventh in effective field goal percentage, thanks to ranking third in the land in three-point shooting at a blistering 40.8 percent and 21st in two-point shooting at 52.3 percent. Furthermore, Indiana has not one but two Player of the Year candidates in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.

This is not an offense without flaws however and what makes this such a nightmarish matchup for Indiana is that Syracuse is as well-equipped to take advantage of those flaws as any team the Hoosiers have faced all year.

The two major weaknesses in the Hoosiers’ game are turnovers and getting shots blocked. Now, Indiana is not really a turnover machine, but it does rank only 123rd in offensive turnover percentage, which pales in comparison to its other offensive efficiency components. That makes the Hoosiers vulnerable to athletic defenses that are good at turning teams over, which fits Syracuse to a tee.

The more glaring weakness for the Hoosiers though is getting shots blocked, as they rank a woeful 277th in offensive block percentage, getting their shots swatted away 10.7 percent of the time. If there were ever a time that could come back to bite them, it would be vs. the best shot blocking team in the country, which as you may have guess by now is Syracuse.

The Orange turned in probably the best defensive performance of this tournament in a second round 81-34 annihilation of Montana where they held the Grizzlies to 20.4 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. Granted the Orange followed up with a non-covering 66-60 win over California, but they still held the Golden Bears to 39.3 percent shooting while forcing another 17 turnovers and the main reason the game was not a blowout was 15 missed Syracuse free throws.

Remember what we said about the Syracuse defense being well equipped to exploit Indiana’s weaknesses? Well, the Orange lead the nation in defensive blocked shot percentage at an insane 18.8 percent of opponents’ attempts, which is more than double the national average of 9.3 percent! Moreover, Syracuse is 23rd in defensive turnover percentage at 23.5 percent, safely above the national norm of 20.0 percent.

Syracuse is even capable of neutralizing an Indiana offensive strength, as the Orange rank fifth in the land in three-point defense while permitting a mere 28.9 percent success rate. All of Syracuse’s success begins with its unique and suffocating 2-3 zone defense, an alignment that gives teams not accustomed to facing it fits.

We think that will go for Indiana too, so look for quite a few easy Syracuse baskets in transition off of either turnovers or blocked shots, so many in fact that we are calling for the outright upset on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/225539/19-238-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse +215 (Money Line)