What a nail-biter. Number 11 Syracuse squeaks out a victory over number 3 West Virginia, 75-72. This win will go down as another classic Syracuse March upset win, along with the Michigan St. win in 2018, and that win over Virginia in 2016. What a game this team played. The better team won today.
The Orange defense was stellar to start. The Mountaineers looked lost on the offensive end, throwing the ball around and out of bounds, amounting to 11 first-half turnovers. It began to taper off though. The Orange seemed to have a difficult time keeping both the offense and defense going at the end of the first half. West Virginia began to come back and make it a two-dog fight. However, when the second half started, SU returned to form. Buddy Boeheim was great, but it didn’t start that way.
Buddy didn’t come out of the locker room shooting the lights out as we all might’ve thought he would. In the first half, the junior had just 3 points, not exactly what we expected after his 30 point outburst against San Diego State. Then the second half started, and the coach’s son showed up. Boeheim poured in 22 points in the second half on the way to the Orange win.
For the Mountaineers, Sean McNeil put on a show. The guard drained three, after three, after three, after three. He finished the game with 23 points, 7 makes from behind the arc. He seemed unstoppable, and every time the ball left his hands it seemed it was going in. The Orange did a great job stopping Derek Culver, WVU’s man in the middle. Culver was a huge threat coming into tonight’s ball game, the Orange did a great job of making him a non-factor. The big finished with just 7 points of 2-9 shooting, a huge reason as to why the Orange pulled out the victory.
The Orange now look forward to the winner of Houston/Rutgers. In Houston, you’re getting the weakest 2-seed left in the NCAA tournament. Still a good team, but a beatable one. With the way the Orange are playing right now, that game would be a great contest. If it’s Rutgers Syracuse would be playing a team they’ve seen once this year already. The Orange suffered a 79-69 loss to the Scarlet Knights back on December 8th, but that Orange team was a lot different than this one. both games would be competitive, but unsurprisingly, the 10 seed would be a lot easier to beat than the 2 seed.
Gill Gross and I will have a FizzCast reaction to this game shortly, and I’ll have you covered at the Sweet 16.