Vermont team capsule

Vermont (25-9)

COACH: Mike Lonergan, five years at Vermont, one year in NCAA Tournament

HOW THEY GOT IN: Automatic bid (America East)

MATCHUP BREAKDOWN: The Orange isn't a great first-round opponent for the Catamounts, even if Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku misses the opener because of his injured quad. The Catamounts probably don't have the shooters to stretch the Syracuse defense, so it will come down to how well Marqus Blakely, Maurice Joseph and Evan Fjeld can find shots in the middle of that zone. Vermont will also have a tough time matching up with Wes Johnson on the defensive end.

GO-TO GUYS: It all starts with Blakely. He's the two-time America East Player of the Year, and has been won the America East Defensive Player of the Year honors in the past three seasons. He leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals and is an explosive leaper with his very own highlight reel of fantastic dunks. Michigan State transfer Joseph is also a scoring threat, and finished ninth in the America East at 14.1 points per game.

THEY'LL KEEP WINNING IF: They outscore the opposition. Vermont is usually solid on defense, but the offense was averaging less than 70 points per game two-thirds of the way through the season, but is averaging 76.3 points per game. over its last 10. Between Blakely, Joseph and Fjeld, the Catamounts have three players who are good bets to make shots when they get a clean look at the basket.

STRENGTHS: Vermont frustrated opponents all season in the paint and on the glass. It led the conference in both rebounds and blocked shots, and held opponents under 40 percent from the field. The frontcourt specializes in taking and making high-percentage shots, with Fjeld shooting 65 percent in conference play and emerging as a third scorer.

WEAKNESSES: The Catamounts aren't always careful with the basketball. They average 14 turnovers per game, and have more turnovers than assists on the season. Vermont also doesn't want to be playing catch-up late, as it shoots 31 percent from 3-point range and Maurice Joseph is the only shooter who tends to get on a roll and really hurt opponents.