Who: Western Michigan Broncos (14 seed, 23-9,) vs. Syracuse Orange (3 seed, 27-5)
When: March 20, 2014
Time: 2:45 PM EST
For 20 games, the Orange were unbeatable. For 20 games, the Orange were playing like the best team in the country. Then again, let’s not forget they were ranked No. 1, but then the wheels started to fall off. Jerami Grant got injured. Tyler Ennis started to play like a freshman, and Trevor Cooney pulled a disappearing act better than that of David Blaine.
Struggling towards the end of the season, the disappointment continued with an upset loss to North Carolina State in the ACC tournament. Despite putting together a record of 27-5 during the regular season, 14-4 in the ACC, the Orange offensive struggles have coincided with their recent play. Putting up just 68.2 points per game while shooting an abysmal 43.7% from the field (good for just 206th in the nation), the Orange can ill-afford to continue to be mired in their offensive slump if they want to have success during these few weeks of March.
Coming off a MAC conference championship, led by stars Shayne Whittington and David Brown, who average 19.1 points, the Broncos have proven they can win. Shooting only 33% from 3-point range, Western Michigan is a decent 3-point shooting team and in order to beat the vaunted 2-3-zone defense of Syracuse, the Broncos must shoot better than that. And I think they will.
In Syracuse’s five losses, the Orange opponents are shooting 47 percent overall and 41 percent from the 3-point line. Look for the Broncos to follow that lead.
All season long, Syracuse has struggled to cover double digit spreads as the favorite, finishing the year with a 14-12-2 overall ATS record and a 10-15-2 totals record. The Orange are 3-6-1 ATS record over their final 10, while going just 1-3 ATS record during their last four double-digit games as the favorite.
The Broncos are getting the Orange at the right time. Look for the Broncos to cover, and if you have a few extra dollars to spend, take the money line as well. It’s certainly worth a shot.