Syracuse, with a double-bye in the Big East Tournament, will finally take the floor at MSG at Noon tomorrow. West Virginia and Connecticut will meet today for the right to play the Orange - but who should 'Cuse fans be rooting for? Who would you rather see in the next round? Let's look at a few factors.
Which team is better?
Unless you're Tom Izzo, you always want an easier road to the promised land. That being said, it's difficult to determine who is actually the better team here. WVU went 9-9 in the Big East and 19-12 overall, losing the majority of its games to good teams (Baylor, 'Cuse, ND, Marquette). UConn comes in at 8-10 in the Big East, but with an identical 19-12 overall record. The Huskies are just 7-11 in 2012, and haven't exactly wowed the selection committee recently (Providence!). My gut says UConn is actually the better team talent-wise, but that clearly hasn't meant much thus far.
What about match-ups?
Obviously Syracuse has already played both these teams. The Orange beat WVU 63-61 in a game that featured the infamous "goal-tend-that-wasn't" non-call. To be fair, it was during the Fab Melo purgatory period, so his presence in the paint could change the dynamic down low this time around. In terms of 3-point field goal percentage, a stat that 'Cuse fans should always worry about, the Mountaineers rank 15 of 16 in the Big East - so not too much to fear. West Virginia would definitely need to slow the tempo to stay in the game, otherwise the speed and athleticism of the Orange would be too much to overcome.
The Orange got UConn twice this year, pulling away for an 18 point win at the Dome and hanging on for a 2 point win in Storrs. UConn is one of the few teams in the Big East that matches up well size-wise against SU. In their most recent tangle on February 25th, Andre Drummond had 17 points and 14 boards for the Huskies, who almost pulled off a huge comeback win. UConn is certainly the more difficult match-up for SU from a personnel standpoint.
What about pride?
West Virginia is leaving for the Big-12 after this season, so it would be nice to see them off on our terms. They're also a little bitter after the way the game ended at the Dome in January, which adds some extra spice. Still, 'Cuse fans consider the Huskies their second biggest rival (after Georgetown) and would love to make them sweat it out this Sunday.
Give me an answer.
Fine, but it depends on what mood you're in. If you're looking for an easier game (famous last words), root for West Virginia. If you're looking to crush dreams, root for UConn.