After their dominating victory over Montana in the Round of 64, the Orange now play another West Coast opponent in California, but this one is a different story for the Orange, as California's campus is less than an hour from San Jose.
In his press conferences leading up to Saturday's game, Jim Boeheim dismissed the questions about California, as a 12-seed, playing in front of virtual home crowd. The players continued his focus on the court, saying they're ready for a team that many said looked much better than a 12-seed in their opening round game with UNLV.
"I think they're trying to get in the spotlight we have," SU forward CJ Fair says. "We know they're going to come ready to play, we've just got to come ready to play also."
The age-old adage is that solid guard play wins in the NCAA Tournament. California has that in Allen Crabbe (the Pac-12 Player of the Year) who scored 19 points in the UNLV victory, which is his average this season. Crabbe also pulled down nine rebounds in their first NCAA win, showing that he is not afraid of battling the big men and getting in the paint. Robert Thurman's physicality in the middle of the SU 2-3 zone could also cause problems, as he likes to dunk the ball.
When asked on how SU wins, SU senior Brandon Triche says, "Defense again, just being able to prepare, stop their guards, stop them from hitting threes and from getting going. If we rebound and do that, we'll be fine."
If the Orange can defeat California in San Jose, they will be able to travel back to the East Coast to Washington D.C., and play the winner of Indiana and Temple.