NCAA Tournament Predictions: East Region 1. Syracuse vs. 16 UNC-Asheville

By: Kels Dayton

Forward Kris Joseph (Getty Images)

 1 SYRAC– — USE (31-2, 17-1 Big East)

The Orange enjoyed one of the best regular seasons in school history, going 31-2 and dominating the Big East conference. Syracuse was given the No. 2 overall seed in this tournament, but has a very challenging draw with 2nd-seeded Ohio State and ACC champion Florida State at the 3. The Orange also drew Vanderbilt, which was a preseason Top-10 team, Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Cincinnati, and may have a tough second round matchup with 8th-seed Kansas State.

Syracuse is loaded with talent, including senior forward Kris Joseph, who averages 13.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Point guard Brandon Triche leads one of the quickest teams in the nation, and Syracuse might be the most explosive team in the country, going on runs of 31-1 and 27-0 in two games against NC State and Louisville this season. They’re also the deepest team in the nation with defensive menace  Fab Melo down low, and experienced leader Scoop Jardine on the wing.


23rd  nationally in points allowed (60.4)

1st RPI

Team stats courtesy of and


 16 UNC-ASHEVILLE (24-9, 16-2 Big South)- The Bulldogs won the Big South outright behind a pair of excellent guards. Seniors Matt Dickey (16.5 ppg) and J.P. Primm (15.3 ppg) are outstanding mid-major basketball players. Dickey was so good in the NCAA Tournament last season that CBS analyst Charles Barkley wondered aloud how his alma matter Auburn didn’t recruit him.

Guard Matt Dickey (Getty Images)

Asheville can put up a ton of points, and were the 5th-highest scoring offense in the country at 81.5 points per game. UNC-Asheville won in the play-in game as a No. 16 seed last season over Arkansas-Little Rock, 81-77, before falling to Pittsburgh, 74-51 in the second round.


5th nationally in PPG (81.2)

8th assists per game (16.6)

16th field goal percentage (.484)



Team stats courtesy of and


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