Imagine Syracuse leads a football game 24-3 heading into halftime. The Orange proceed to get shutout in the second half, but hang on to win 24-21. How do you feel leaving the Dome? SU won, but the elation is absent, because they almost blew it.
Comebacks are the opposite. You think it’s a loss, then suddenly it’s a win. Nothing compares with that celebration. There’s a reason for this: it’s a psychological theory called “loss aversion.” Cheers to brain chemistry, we’re counting down Syracuse’s top three comebacks.
1. Syracuse Steals Final Four Berth from UVA (2016)
Syracuse was the No. 10 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Virginia was a one. And for most of the game, that’s exactly how it looked. The Cavaliers were the better team, looking poised to end SU’s Elite 8 cinderella run in commanding fashion.
The score was 54-39 UVA with 9:30 to go in the second half. Jim Boeheim initiated the full court press, usually a tactic effective for short spurts, definitely not a strategy fit for a nine minute stretch.
But against the slowest team in the country, the press proved to be kryptonite. Virginia missed layups and turned the ball over. Syracuse’s freshman microwave Malachi Richardson started sizzling. The Orange went on a 21-2 run. Richardson dropped 14 points over that stretch. The run was so explosive, that the game ended up being pretty comfortable in the end: a 68-62 victory.
Not only was it an incredible comeback in a vacuum, it was also an incredible comeback from how the season started. Boeheim served a nine-game suspension at the start, and Syracuse began ACC play 0-4. Despite a 1-5 finish to the year, the Orange received a tournament bid. Sounds like a Final Four team, right? Well, it was.