Badgers Wary Of Talented Syracuse

The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team arrived in Boston on Tuesday ahead of their faceoff with Syracuse later this week.

Head coach Bo Ryan joked that to beat Syracuse, his team needs to practice making shots from half court. Ryan is only half-kidding because they’ll face Syracuse’s vaunted two-three zone on Thursday in the Sweet Sixteen.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is famous for his zone. The Orange are ranked No. 7 in the NCAA in field goal defense. More so than ever, Wisconsin needs a good shooting night.

“The teams that are successful get a little bit inside and out,” Ryan said. “It comes from both ends. There are teams that maybe shot it really well from 3, that were able to bump them. They’ve got so many talented players. When you’re no. 1 in the country for so long and for so many different eras, they’re just good.”

However, facing off a team legendary for its use of the zone, it’s nice to have a solid player in the zone. Badgers player Ben Brust hit 3 3-pointers in an 11-point second half outburst to take down Vanderbilt last week.

He and the Badgers have faced zone before, but with mixed results.

“(I) definitely think there will be a learning curve,” he said. “But, we’ve played a lot of different teams this year. Some with length, some play zone, some hard man, some have been aggressive. Just have to take everything we’ve learned throughout the year and apply it to what they’re doing and work hard in practice and get it going for the game.”

Meanwhile, Syracuse has some vulnerability. First, the team lost center Fab Melo for the NCAA tournament because of an academic issue. Then, the Orange barely hung on to beat No. 16 seed UNC-Asheville in the first round.

There might never be a truly good time to run into a top-seeded, two-loss team — but if there was, this might be it.

Just don’t try selling that line of thinking to anybody at Wisconsin.

Going into Thursday’s regional semifinal game in Boston, the Badgers are confident they have a chance against Syracuse, but they don’t necessarily see the Orange as vulnerable without their big man.