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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Jim Boeheim: Michigan is probably the toughest team for us to defend

Jim BoeheimJim Boeheim expressed some concern over Syracuse playing Michigan in the Final Four after watching what the Wolverines did to the Florida Gators in the South Region finals of the NCAA tournament Sunday.

Michigan was on fire in the first half against Florida and outscored the Gators 47-30. Boeheim and his point guard Michael Carter-Williams joined the CBS crew for an interview during halftime of the Michigan-Florida game, and that’s when the Syracuse coach expressed praised the Wolverines.

“What I’ve watched I haven’t liked at all,” Boeheim told Greg Gumbel in response to Michigan’s explosive first half. “They’re probably the toughest offensive team in the tournament as far as we go. Because they shoot the ball so well from the perimeter, they’ve got [Mitch] McGary playing inside at a high level which he wasn’t earlier in the year. Offensively, they’re probably the most difficult team in the tournament for us.”

Boeheim is right on about McGary. The freshman forward’s season-high marks during the regular season were 14 points and 11 rebounds. In the tournament, he’s taken his game to the next level. He put up 13 and nine in the team’s first game against South Dakota State, 21 and 14 against VCU, and he went off for 25 and 14 in an overtime win over Kansas.

Though Boeheim admitted that Michigan’s well-rounded offense presents a challenge, he wanted to make it clear that facing his team’s 2-3 zone defense is not so simple to beat.

“Our zone is not easy to play against because of a guy like Michael [Carter-Williams] out there at 6-foot-6. He can disrupt smaller guards — like Indiana’s guards — had a lot of trouble against Michael.”

Michigan has two things that could help them beat the zone — a point guard who can penetrate like Trey Burke, and good outside shooting. Nik Stauskas is a 42.9 percent 3-point shooter this season and went 6-of-6 on threes Sunday. The chances for Michigan to replicate its amazing performance against Florida seems small, but they certainly have the tools to beat Syracuse.

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