#1 Syracuse Orange
#5 Butler Bulldogs
Vegas Odds: Syracuse -6.5
How Syracuse Got Here: Syracuse 87 - Gonzaga 65
How Butler Got Here: Butler 54 - Murray St 52
Why Watch? Syracuse has made minced meat of their first two opponents, but Butler (who should have been a 3 or 4 seed) has a top 10 defense and always causes problems for opponents. Two contrasting styles will lead to an intriguing game.
Why Butler will win:
Butler hasn't lost a game since December and their 30-4 record and top 10 RPI speak for themselves. Syracuse hasn't faced a team with Butler's stifling defense all year, and the Bulldogs are no stranger to top opponents, having beaten the likes of Ohio St and Xavier.
Bulldog to Watch:
Shelvin Mack, G - 14 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg
Mack a 6-3 do-it-all guard may be one of the country's most underrated players. He can handle, shoot, pass, and defend. While Gordon Hayward might be a better pro prospect, it is Mack who really makes the team go.
Why Syracuse will win:
Syracuse is #7 in the country in offensive efficiency and 16th in defense. That's a powerful combination for a team with an NBA-bound star (Wesley Johnson) and a coach whose been there and back a few times. If they keep up their hot shooting (12 threes against Gonzaga), there's little reason to think they'll lose.
Orange to Watch:
Andy Rautins, G - 12 ppg, 3 rpg, 5 apg
While Syracuse has many talented players, they're at their best when Rautins is in the groove. When he shot 1 of 8 from three against Louisville, they lost, and in the loss to Pitt, he was 1 of 6 from downtown. If Butler can contain Rautins, they'll have a much easier time keeping Syracuse from lighting up the scoreboard.
How it will go down:
For all of Butler's success this year, they haven't beaten a top 35 team away from home. They barely beat Xavier way back by a point, and the home OSU win was against a Turner-less squad. Unlike those games, Syracuse is firing on all cylinders right now and the game is not in Indy..
Betting Pick: Syracuse
Real Pick: Syracuse