#13 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 24-7 (13-3 Southland)
Stephen F. Austin Starting Lineup:
G Eric Bell Jr.
G Girod Adams Jr.
F Josh Alexander Sr.
F Nick Shaw Sr.
C Matt Kingsley Sr.
Key Bench Players:
G Eddie Williams Soph.
G Walt Harris Jr.
F Benson Akpan Sr.
Previous Game: The 'Jacks of Stephen F. Austin defeated the Texas San-Antonio RoadRunners to win the Southland Conference Tournament by a score of 68-57. Matt Kingsley led the 'Jacks with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Josh Alexander and Eddie Williams each chipped in with 16 points.
Game Preview: Syracuse is finally back in the NCAA Tournament after a 2 season hiatus. Although, 2 years is nothing compared to actually never being in the tournament, like Stephen F. Austin. This is SFA's first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and also the first for their Head Coach Danny Kaspar, compared to 24 appearances for Jim Boeheim. That is one of the big reasons as to why Syracuse should easily win this one. That along with the fact that Syracuse is one of the hottest teams in the Tournament. Winning 8 straight by an average of 20+ before losing to Louisville in the Big East Tournament Championship because of fatigue. That issue of fatigue has been brought up many times over the past week as analyst after analyst questions the legs of the Syracuse's players. "I'm only 20-years-old, I'm young," Flynn said. "We're used to playing basketball all the time back home." So fatigue should not be a factor after a full 5 days of rest. For SFA to try to wear down Cuse they need to play their hard nosed defense they have played all season. SFA ranks 2nd in the country in opponents points per game and allows offenses to shoot just 37.2% from the field. They haven't played an offensive juggernaut like Syracuse though. Syracuse shoots 48.8% form the field, thanks mostly to Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku who both shoot over 62% from the field. Cuse also averages 81 ppg, tops in the Big East and top 5 in the nation. If Syracuse even has a below average day on offense it is still better than most teams. The question is on the defensive side of the ball. Lately, Syracuse has been great in their 2-3 zone, forcing TO's, bad shots and giving opposing teams offensive fits. It will be interesting to see how SFA scores the ball. The 2-3 will take away 6 foot 9" star center Matt Kingsley down in the low post, and SFA only shoots 31% from 3 on the season so they make knock down a couple long range shots but not as much as they would need to win. 5 foot 3" point Eric Bell will not be so eager to go into the teeth of the 2-3, and if SFA wants to try to beat Cuse down the floor they will turn it into a run and gun type of game, which is not their style. Look for SFA to try and lull Syracuse to sleep with long offensive possesions and then try to get a good shot with under 15 seconds to go in the shot clock.
My Prediction: Matt Kingsley is a great player for Stephen F. Austin, so is Josh Alexander, but Syracuse is bigger at literally every position. They have been battle tested and they have a coach who has more experience than anyone in the South Region. Syracuse will not be fatigued and they will run away with this first round game. 77-57 Syracuse.
Final Score: 59-44 Syracuse