Buffalo awaits 'mystery' Syracuse Orange in NCAA Tournament

Syracuse is sort of a mystery team entering the NCAA tournament.

The Orange (27-5) earned the third seed in the South and will open play just down the road in Buffalo on Thursday against Western Michigan (23-9), the Mid-American Conference champion. But which Syracuse squad will show up - the one that won 25 straight games to start the season and zoomed to No. 1 in the country for three weeks, or the one that has lost five of its last seven games?

Coach Jim Boeheim isn't concerned. He's been here before. Last year's team lost four of its final regular-season games and made it to the Final Four.

At least the team is healthy again. Forward Jerami Grant has reverted to form after injuring his back and shooting guard Trevor Cooney is expected to be at full throttle after tweaking an ankle in the ACC tournament.

In Western New York, downtown Buffalo is bracing for an orange crush when SU plays its second-round NCAA Tournament game later this week.

The Orange will take on Western Michigan at First Niagara Arena around 2:45 Thursday afternoon, about a half hour the completion of the Ohio State-Dayton game. The game will be broadcast on WTVH CBS-5 in Central New York. CNY Central's Niko Tamurian and Alex Dunbar will have live coverage from Buffalo beginning on Wednesday.

For Syracuse fans, it's just a two-hour drive west on the New York State Thruway to get to Buffalo. Several busloads of Syracuse students are expected at the game. They'll be joined by a large contingent of the thousands of the Syracuse graduates who live in western New York and other upstate areas.

If Syracuse wins Thursday, the Orange will play the winner of the game between the two Ohio colleges.

Thursday's other games in Buffalo have Connecticut playing Saint Joseph and Villanova taking on Milwaukee.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)