#1 Virginia vs. #10 Syracuse. In an All-ACC day of Elite Eight matchups, a matchup of teams coming into the tournament with different expectations will be a very interesting battle. These two teams don’t play that different that it will be a contrast in styles, but the way they go about playing on offense might be a different approach.
Both Virginia and Syracuse have solid defensive foundations and both have a mix of undersized guys up front (aside from Mike Tobey) and long guys on the wing (with the exception of London Perrantes). So where the Cavaliers have the advantage in team defense, there might be some matchups that Syracuse can take advantage of on the opposite end.
Michael Gbinije took a bunch of shots in the last game and needs to improve on his shot-taking and shot-making to really help out his ball club. Trevor Cooney turned in his first efficient game and has to continue. Whoever is handling the ball for the Orange has got to do a better job and setting up the offense and taking care of the ball because Virginia won’t let the Cuse back into the game if they get a real lead.
Even though Virginia won comfortably over Iowa State, London Perrantes played 39 minutes. Someone needs to pick up the slack for him so the kid can rest. If the Cavs advance and he plays that much again it might take a toll. Anthony Gill was huge the other night but will need some help from Malcolm Brogdon who had an off-night shooting only 4-13.
Provided the two teams play to their potential, the game will still be closer than many imagine. Syracuse has the ability score in bunches but they have a tendency to take shots just to take shots. If they let the game come to them then it’s possible we could see an upset. With Tony Bennett’s squad, if all else fails, they will play tough defense. So it will most important that Virginia’s stars show out and get some bench help. I’m predicting a score similar to their previous encounter. Virginia 76, Syracuse 66.