The SU football and basketball programs have been filled with ups and downs the past five years. However, the ups have been incredibly high and Friday night was another example of that. So it got me thinking, where does Friday night rank among the best SU wins in the past five years? After some digging, here’s the full top 10.
10: Tyler Ennis’ Pitt Buzzer Beater: Feb. 12 2014.
After 23 straight wins to start the 2013-14 season, SU’s run looked all but over in the late stages of game number 24 at Pittsburgh. Until, Tyler Ennis ripped out every single heart in the Oakland Zoo student section and dropped a three point bomb as time expired to give the Orange a 58-56 victory.
9: Syracuse Downs Duke at Cameron Indoor: Jan. 18 2016.
Tyler Roberson’s SU career didn’t go completely according to plan. However, for one mid-January night at Cameron Indoor it all clicked for the power forward. Roberson turned into a 2008 version of Dwight Howard and reeled in a career high 20 rebounds. The then-junior also had 14 points on the night, including this memorable alley-oop throw down. Behind peak Roberson, SU escaped Coach K’s court with the marquee road win the Orange desperately needed for its March Madness tournament resume.
8: Babers First Marquee Win Over Virginia Tech: Oct. 15 2016.
After a rain-soaked loss to Wake Forest, no one expected the 2-4 Orange to have any chance in its week 7 matchup against number 17 Virginia Tech. However, Babers and the Orange proved the naysayers wrong with a trick-play infested, dome storming 31-17 upset win. Leading to the legendary post game speech that gave every Orange football fan that long overdue feeling of pure joy. IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT. THEY DIDN’T KNOW!
7: SU Tops Gonzaga to Advance to Sweet 16: March. 25 2016
After barely making the tournament and dodging Michigan State in the second round, it seemed like SU’s tournament run just had to run out of steam against Gonzaga. SU couldn’t get a rebound all season long and the Zags frontcourt was led by two future NBA first round selections: Domantas Sabonis and Zach Collins. Yet, somehow all that didn’t matter. Syracuse rallied late, Tyler Lydon made the block of the year and the cinderella Orange kept on dancing to the Elite 8 with a 63-60 victory.
6: Orange Out Duel Hoosiers in 2013 Sweet 16: March. 28 2013.
The other SU sweet 16 victory of the past five years was a little more predictable but perhaps more impressive. In 2013, number one seeded Indiana possessed one of the best offenses in the nation but it simply had no answers for SU’s 2-3 zone. The Hoosiers looked like a shell of themselves, while the Orange– led by a 24-point performance from Michael Carter Williams– raced on to the Elite 8 with a 61-50 win.
5: Syracuse Upsets Virginia in the Dome for Boeheim’s 1000***th: Feb. 4 2017.
After a comeback Elite 8 win over Virginia the year before, the Orange did it again the next year in the dome. Syracuse erased a 12 point half-time deficit for a stunning 66-62 win over Tony Bennett’s squad. During a year filled with shocking losses, Boeheim could finally rejoice and hold his hands in the air as he walked off the student-infested Carrier Dome court as the winning head coach for the 1000th time in his illustrious career.
4: The Shot Heard Round the World: John Gillon’s Duke Buzzer Beater: Feb. 22 2017.
There have been some wild, memorable moments in the Carrier Dome throughout the years, but perhaps nothing has matched the pure pandemonium from the 30,331 fans that witnessed Gillon’s walk-off three pointer against no. 10 Duke. A sea of Orange flooded the court as soon as Gillon’s three point heave banked home. Unfortunately, SU went on to miss the tournament in 2017 but watching Gillon drop that bomb on Grayson Allen, Coach K and the rest of SU’s “rivals” will still never, ever get old. To save you the wasted time of searching for the video, here it is.
3: Syracuse Football Shocks The College Football World: Oct. 13 2017.
Friday night’s program-altering victory checks in at number 3 on the list. Syracuse still might not make a bowl game this year but man did Friday change the entire complexion of SU football for the foreseeable future. Recruits are raving, the hype around Babers is growing and Syracuse is the talk of the college football world for the first time since Donovan McNabb graced the Carrier Dome turf. It’s been an uphill climb back to the top since the infamous Greg Robinson era, but after Friday night, the future is as bright as it has been in a really, really long time.
2: Syracuse Tops Duke In Instant Classic: Feb. 1 2014.
Even without recency bias, SU’s 91-89 overtime victory over Duke in 2013 still comes in near the top of the list. It was one of those rare super-hyped up games that actually lived up to its billing. It had everything you could ask for. It had stars in Jabari Parker, C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis and Rodney Hood. It had the largest on campus crowd in college basketball history with 35,000 plus fans. It had a shocking buzzer beater to force overtime from Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon. It had a controversial non-foul call in overtime and two of the greatest coaches ever dueling it out. It was one of the best college basketball games ever and to make things even better number one Syracuse got the last laugh and improved to 21-0 on the season with the win.
1: 10th Seeded SU Stuns Virginia to Advance to Final Four: March. 27 2016.
Of all the euphoric moments of the past five years, SU’s magical final four run in 2016 takes the cake. In an elite 8 game the Orange had no business being in, Syracuse fell down big early to a team that has a reputation of never surrendering leads. But, freshmen Tyler Lydon buried a three shoeless, SU brought out the tempo-changing press and Malachi Richardson flashed the double three goggles after transforming himself from undrafted into a first round pick in an unprecedented span of three minutes. I still don’t really know how Syracuse pulled of that cinderella run, but it did and its number one on our list for now.