The game between Syracuse and Indiana will be a great match up Thursday. Both teams have incredible athletes, and the game could very well come down to coaching. Here are some statistics comparing Jim Boeheim to Indiana coach Tom Crean:
|Record||269-176 (.604)||915-310 (.747)|
|Record in Conference||123-113 (.521)||362-191 (.655)|
|Seasons as Head Coach||14||37|
|NCAA Tournament Record||9-6 (.529)||48-27 (.640)|
Obviously it is pretty clear that Boeheim holds the experience edge. Disregarding the fact that he has been a head coach for 23 seasons more than Crean, Boeheim has had 13 more opportunities to play in the second weekend of the tournament. It is pretty remarkable to me that Boeheim has been in the Sweet 16 almost every other season of his head coaching career, and that his NCAA Tournament record is so good, despite criticisms that his team under performs in March.
While I think it is safe to give the coaching edge to Boeheim in this game, the players on the floor will obviously decide the outcome. This is the best team Tom Crean has ever had (Dwayne Wade-led Marquette included), and they seem primed to make a Final Four run. Despite not playing their best game over the weekend against Temple, the Hoosiers found a way to win. This team found a way to be victorious while scoring in the 50s, and that is something that Syracuse has had a tough time with this season. The Orange are 3-5 on the season when scoring under 60 points, so it is going to take an all-around effort both offensively and defensively if the Orange are going to win this game.
These two coaching styles make an absolutely remarkable match up. Crean and Boeheim both like to run up tempo styles on offense, which could definitely make for a high scoring affair. I will be very interested to see if Boeheim opts to try to run with Crean’s squad, or if he will slow it down like teams have apparently done to Syracuse all season long. Should the Orange slow it down, they will be relying on their defense to get them a victory, something that has been absolutely spectacular in the tournament so far. This is a very difficult decision for Boeheim to make, who has had teams run opponents off the floor in previous seasons under the hall of famer. While I don’t see that being possible against Indiana, Syracuse is still more than capable of getting some fast break points that could be crucial in deciding the outcome of the game.
Tom Crean is a fiery coach who has a tremendous team this season. The Hoosiers are favored Thursday night, and rightfully so given what they have done this season. But Jim Boeheim’s coaching success both as a whole and against Crean in his Marquette days makes me believe that this will be an unbelievable game. Barring a blowout, I don’t think anybody would be surprised by either team winning the game.