Breakdown: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Syracuse Orange

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer

Path to Verizon Center

No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers

Defeated No. 16 James Madison 83-62

Defeated No. 9 Temple 58-52

No. 4 Syracuse Orange

Defeated No. 13 Montana 81-34

Defeated No. 12 California 66-60

Starting lineups

No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers

G - Yogi Ferrell 6-0, Fr.

G - Victor Oladipo 6-5, Jr.

G - Jordan Hulls 6-0, Sr.

F - Christian Watford 6-9, Sr.

F - Cody Zeller 7-0, So.

Key reserves

F - Will Sheehey 6-7, Jr.

G - Remy Abell 6-4, So.

No. 4 Syracuse Orange

G - Michael Carter-Williams 6-6, So.

G - Brandon Triche 6-4, Sr.

F - James Southerland 6-8, Sr.

F - C.J. Fair 6-8, Jr.

F - Rakeem Christmas 6-9, So.

Key reserves

C - Baye Keita 6-10, Jr.

F - Jerami Grant 6-8, Fr.

How Indiana can win » By not just breaking down the Syracuse 2-3 zone but breaking it altogether. Louisville ran off 56 points against the Orange in the second half of the Big East championship. The Hoosiers have even more offensive weapons -- as a team they shoot 40.8 percent from 3-point range -- to rattle a Syracuse squad that hasn't been particularly resilient.

How Syracuse can win » Make Indiana work the shot clock. Temple nearly pulled off an upset by shortening the contest; The Hoosiers won their only game of the year scoring in the 50s with 19 made field goals, their fewest of the season. Syracuse also needs to utilize its big bodies to make the game physical and get much-needed offensive rebounds.

Player to watch » James Southerland isn't Syracuse's highest scorer or best shooter, but when he's connecting from the arc, confidence has a way of seeping into the rest of a team that desperately needs it. His record-setting 19 3-pointers at the Big East tournament were crucial to snapping the Orange out of a late-season funk and lifting them to the conference championship game.

X-factor » Both teams will be measured against the players who faced off in the famous 1987 final. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose team is the underdog Thursday as it was 26 years ago, said it took him until he won the NCAA tournament in 2003 to get over losing that game. The Indiana championship team has visited with the program's current players.

Examiner predicts

After a wake-up call against Temple in the third round, Indiana will play with an edge and begin to look like a potential national champion. Syracuse won't be poised enough offensively to trade buckets with a Hoosiers team that gets out in transition and has its dangerous 3-point game going. Indiana 79, Syracuse 73.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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