Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor // Managing Editor
Both Middle Tennessee State University and Syracuse University came away with upsets in their respective first-round games, adding to the unpredictability of March.
But, one thing is for certain headed into Sunday’s Round-of-32 matchup between No. 15 seed MTSU and the No. 10 seed Syracuse Orange: MTSU head coach Kermit Davis and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim do not procrastinate when it comes to their respective scouting reports.
Sunday’s game between the teams will be the first in each school’s history books, but that doesn’t mean Boeheim or Davis are unfamiliar with each other.
“We know them,” Boeheim said. “It doesn’t matter their name. We know as much about them as we would know about any team in the country. We’ve seen 10, 15 different game tapes on them prior to this. We already had one assistant looking at those and breaking those down. So, we’re as familiar with them as we are any team we’ll play in terms of what they do.”
According to Boeheim, Syracuse also had two assistant coaches, Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara, watching MTSU’s game against Michigan State on Friday. Autry was responsible for scouting MTSU, and McNamara was watching Michigan State.
“They’re a really, really good offensive team,” Boeheim said about MTSU. “I had talked to a pro scout, and he had told me, and some people had told him, that this was a very, very good team. And when you watch them play, it’s pretty obvious that they’re a very, very good team.”
One thing that stood out to Boeheim on film was Blue Raiders sophomore guard Giddy Potts.
Potts played a game-high 39 minutes and scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting against No. 2 seed Michigan State. He also sits as the NCAA leader in three-point field goal percentage (50.7 percent).
“He’s as good a shooter as I’ve seen,” Boeheim said about Potts. “I mean, I watched him shoot it. You really think it’s a mistake if he misses. Because even the tough shots he takes almost go in.”
Much like Boeheim, MTSU’s Coach Davis started his scouting well in advance.
In fact, the Blue Raider head coach had already began scouting Syracuse before taking the court against Michigan State.
MTSU assistant coaches Win Case and Greg Grensing both sat court side and watched on as No. 10 seed Syracuse defeated No. 7 seed Dayton prior to the Blue Raiders’ upset of the Spartans.
“I think they’re a very, very good basketball team… very talented,” Case said about Syracuse. “It’s going to be a tough game. But, the one thing that really concerns us is that 2-3 zone. Coach Boeheim is legendary and people have a hard time scoring against it. So, we’re going to have to be patient, and we’ll have to get paint touches in order to score. But we’ll be ready to play.”
Syracuse’s perimeter players stood out to the Blue Raiders’ coaching staff when the Orange played Dayton, and also during MTSU’s film session Saturday morning.
Syracuse guard Trevor Cooney is third in career 3-pointers as a member of the Orange, and 6-foot-7 guard Michael Gbinije adds size and an efficient scoring presence (17.6 points per game).
“They have long, athletic skilled guys on the perimeter,” Grensing said. “It’s a completely different type of game than what we just played against Michigan State.”
“His guards are so big and so athletic,” Davis added. “And they do such a good job of recruiting the guards that fit how they’re going to defend.”
MTSU and Syracuse square off Sunday night at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. CT.
To contact Sports Editor Connor Grott, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.