Syracuse -13 over Western Michigan for NCAA Tournament

David Lawrence

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 12:50 PM GMT

The Western Michigan Broncos kick off their tournament today, as they face the Syracuse Orange. Will we see a big upset, or will the higher seed do what it is expected to do on the NCAA Tournament odds?

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The Western Michigan Broncos rather easily defeated the Toledo Rockets, the team that was considered the best in the Mid-American Conference over the course of the regular season. Beating Toledo was impressive, but beating Toledo in a comfortable way is what should get the attention of the Syracuse Orange heading into this second-round matchup.

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The Broncos can win because…

In a lot of the conference tournaments from conferences that put just one team in the NCAA tournament, a lot of commentators have made the following point: The small conferences' best teams are not winning the conference tournaments, which means that the conferences are not sending their best representatives to the NCAA tournament. Toledo was the team that was tabbed by experts as the number one team in the Mid-American Conference, but maybe that line of thinking has to be re-evaluated now in light of how Western Michigan ripped through Toledo in the championship game of the MAC Tournament. Toledo might have had the best overall accomplishments of any MAC team during the regular season, but it sure seemed to be the case that Western Michigan was the team in the conference that was playing the best at the end of the season. Syracuse might think that it is getting a less proven team in this matchup, but that instinct might not be true. The biggest thing is that the Orange really shouldn't be concerned with what they think or what they are hoping for.

The Orange can win because…

The key question for Syracuse is how the team will play with Jerami Grant back in the lineup at the forward spot. Grant returned to the team late in the regular season after missing multiple games due to an injury. When Grant was out, Syracuse really struggled. The hope for the Orange is that Grant can play at a high level, but there are no guarantees about that since Grant is just trying to work his way back into the swing of things. If Grant is not effective in this game and Syracuse does not play well together, this game could be really troublesome for the Orange. Western Michigan could get hot from the perimeter and make life a pain in the neck for Syracuse. The Orange didn't lose a single game until late February and showed how great they could be, but they also lost at home to bad teams, Boston College and Georgia Tech. Syracuse is capable of playing great, and it is capable of playing poorly. The team that shows up for Syracuse will decide this one.

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Outlook & Pick

Ultimately, Syracuse should be better now that Grant has had an extra week of practice time with the team. The wrong turn this team took the past few weeks should be straightened out and made right. The Orange should be focused and motivated enough to lay the points for our college basketball picks. They will be able to answer whatever Western Michigan might choose to do here.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Syracuse -13 at 5Dimes