(9) Baylor Bears vs (8) Syracuse Orange: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Baylor Bears vs Syracuse Orange

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT

When: Thursday, March 21st at 9:57 PM EST

How (TV): TruTV, NCAA.com

(8) Syracuse Orange

Head Coach: Jim Boeheim {Record: 20-13 | Conference: 10-8, 6th in ACC}

Syracuse enters the tournament in an advantageous position. Entering the tournament at number 8, they draw what is possibly the most difficult opening match of the tournament. But if they can get past the Baylor Bears, they may have a more direct route to the Final Four.

The Orange’s chances begin and end with Jim Boeheim’s vaunted zone defense. It has both destroyed opposing teams offensive plan as well as allowed for some hot shooting nights for their competitors. Baylor is a strong team on the boards, so Syracuse will have to rebound as a team if they don’t want to be taken advantage of on the glass.

Central to their ability to handle the Bears on the boards is sophomore forward Oshae Brissett. The rangy forward is yet to develop a perimeter game, but he is leading the Orange in rebounding with 7.5 per game. His size will hurt him against the Baylor bigs, but his intensity on the glass combined with a team effort may just keep them competitive.

(9) Baylor Bears

Head Coach: Scott Drew {Record: 19-13 | Conference: 10-8, 4th in Big 12}

The Baylor Bears enter the tournament with a game plan and assets that can cause problems for a lot of teams. As always, they are an all-heart, all-hustle team that Scott Drew encourages to win by any means possible. It may not be a pretty game, but their effort on the court is almost unmatchable.

The Bears have a clear advantage on the glass over the Syracuse Orange. Theoretically, that advantage should continue with Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone opposing them. The Bears will look to rush in for second chances, especially when forced to the outside considering they aren’t in the nations competitive percentile for three-point shooting.

Mario Kegler is a big sophomore guard that they will rely on for this game. His position in the high-post will determine the success of the Bears. Louisville showed that instinctual passing out of the high-post toward the arc or rim can break down the Syracuse defense. It will be up to his team to get him the ball and up to him to execute in the clutch.

Baylor Bears Roster Notes

G Jake Lindsey – 18 Feb 2019 – OUT (Hip) – is out for the season.

F Tristan Clark – 12 Jan 2019 – OUT (Knee) – is out for the season.

Florida Gators Roster Notes

G Frank Howard – 20 Mar 2019 – OUT (Suspension) – Howard is out indefinitely.

G Tyus Battle – 17 Mar 2019 – Day-to-Day (Hip) – Battle is expected to play against Baylor.

Head-to-Head: Pashchal Chukwu (SYR) vs Mark Vital (BAY)

Paschal Chukwu and Mark Vital bring vastly different skill sets to the court in order to benefit their team. For a rim-attacking squad like Baylor, Chukwu will be tasked with stopping their conversions at the rim. On the other side Mark Vital is a Swiss Army Knife of a forward with the ability to impact the game in many ways.

Paschal Chukwu

Center | 7-2, 228lb (218cm, 103kg) | Fairfield Prep | Westport, CT | Senior

4.3 PPG | 0.3 APG | 5.4 RPG | 0.8 SPG | 1.8 BPG | 1.0 TOV | .716 FG% | – 3P%

Paschal Chukwu will play a vital role in the success of the Syracuse defense. With their famous zone, Chukwu is the last line of defense if it were to be penetrated. He is a capable shot-blocker, averaging 2.1 blocks per game over his four years in the NCAA. His length is incomparable in the NCAA and his presence will be a factor in every match of the tournament.

Mark Vital

Guard-Forward | 6-5, 230lb (196cm, 104kg) | Prime Prep Academy | Lake Charles, LA | Sophomore

7.0 PPG | 2.0 APG | 7.2 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 0.9 BPG | 1.8 TOV | .442 FG% | .182 3P%

Mark Vital is a bit of a do-it-all player for the Bears. His style of play is reminiscent of PJ Tucker circa 2006. He’s undersized for his style of play but his energy and effort more than make up for his physical shortcomings. He will be tenacious on the glass and in transition, where Baylor will likely look for most of their points. His lack of shooting is a drawback, but if he can establish himself inside and make the Syracuse defence rotate, he may just be the difference maker.

Baylor Bears at Syracuse Orange Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Syracuse Orange favored over the Baylor Bears by 1.5, with an over/under of 110.