Syracuse Stuns Virginia to Earn Spot in the NCAA Final Four
It’s definitely proving to be a Cinderella season for the Syracuse Orangemen. After annoying some college basketball fans and experts with their inclusion in the NCAA tournament, the Orangemen are proving all the experts wrong with an upset win over the No.1-ranked University of Virginia Cavaliers on Sunday.
Down for most of the game, the 10-seeded Orangemen fell behind 16 points in the second half. The Cavaliers’ tough defense left the Orangemen throwing up bricks from outside and missing easy shots from inside the paint, but the team that shocked Gonzaga only two nights before wasn’t done quite yet.
Coach Jim Boeheim’s team went on a 23-4 run, decimating Virginia’s lead and earning a spot in the NCAA Final Four. Syracuse Freshman Guard Malachi Richardson came alive in the second half, scoring 14 of his 23 points during the Orangemen’s improbable comeback.
“You can be in a great situation or you can be in an awful situation, and you can still get — you can still overcome that awful situation,” Boeheim said. “It didn’t look like we would be able to win tonight, but these guys just — they made hard plays. They deserve all the credit in the world.”
Next up for Syracuse is another No. 1-ranked team, University of North Carolina Tar Heels, the only top-ranked team to escape the Elite Eight.
UNC dispatched No. 6 Notre Dame in the final game of the weekend 88-74. The Tar Heels were led by Brice Johnson, who finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. His double-double added to his UNC school record 23 for the season.
While UNC is playing some of its best basketball at just the right time, the No.1 overall-seeded Kansas Jayhawks were grounded on Saturday night when they were upset by the Villanova Wildcats 64-59. The Wildcats stifled the Jayhawks’ potent offense, holding them to just 25 first-half points and kept the pressure on in the second half to secure the win.
Villanova moves on to face the Oklahoma Sooners, who defeated No. 1-seed Oregon behind rising star and player-of-the-year candidate, Buddy Hield. The senior put up 17 first-half points behind five three pointers, and finished with a game-high 37 points and eight three-pointers.
Oklahoma has never won a national championship, but behind Hield’s impressive play, that might all change next weekend in Houston.
The Final Four begins in Houston on Saturday at 6:09 p.m. with Oklahoma vs. Villanova, followed by UNC vs. Syracuse at 8:49 p.m. on TBS.
The National Championship game is Monday night, April 4.