The Syracuse basketball program (ranked No. 11 in both college basketball polls) earned a No. 3 seed in the East Region of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Orange (26-7) will play Friday night at 9:57 p.m. on truTV against No. 14-seeded Indiana State Sycamores (20-13, 15-6 Missouri Valley Conference) in the second round of the 68-team tournament in Cleveland, OH.
Every college basketball fan thinks of the legendary Larry Bird, who averaged 30.3 points per game during his three years (1976-'79), when they think of Indiana State. Well, it has been a long time No. 33 played for the Sycamores, who will be making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001.
Surprisingly, this will be the first time ever that the Orange and Sycamores meet. So, if you're unfamiliar with Indiana State, SB Nation.com did an outstanding job of previewing every team in the 68-team field. Here's their take on the 2011-10 Sycamores:
"The Indiana State Sycamores' post-Larry Bird successes in the modern era haven't featured much in terms of the NCAA Tournament. This is just Indiana State's third March Madness appearance since that magical run to the NCAA final, and its first round win in 2001 is the only one since the era of Larry Legend. These Sycamores, though, have their own legacy: in a Missouri Valley Conference with three presumed titans, the Sycamores, thought to be third of three, made a run through the conference to take their rightful NCAA Tournament automatic berth.
Record: 20-13, 15-6 in the Missouri Valley
Key wins: Indiana State came up big against Missouri Valley regular season champion Missouri State when it mattered with a 60-56 win in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on March 6.
Key losses: Against Missouri State and Wichita State in the regular season, though, the Sycamores went just 1-3, losing those three games in a five-game losing streak that stretched from Jan. 22 to Feb. 5.
Players to watch: The Sycamores have no great surplus of height, with no player getting meaningful minutes standing taller than six-foot-eight. But forward Myles Walker blocks shots on 4.7 percent of opponent possessions. And even a team of relative Lilliputians will have its occasional stud, like Jake Odum, whose superb midrange shooting and sure passing have made him an extraordinarily steady freshman point guard."