For the first time since Carmelo Anthony gave Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim his first national championship 10 years ago, the Orange are headed back to the Final Four.
No. 4 seed Syracuse defeated No. 3 seed Marquette, 55-39, at Verizon Center on Saturday afternoon in what could be the final game between between two teams from the Big East as we know it. Syracuse will face the winner of Sunday’s South Region final between Michigan and Florida in Atlanta on Apr. 6.
The Orange, which will join the ACC next season, could potentially face Louisville in an all-Big East NCAA tournament final if both teams manage to advance that far. For the embattled conference, let’s hope that’s the case after the ugly brick-fest fans witnessed in Chinatown on Saturday.
That was largely because of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, which confounded a higher-seeded team for a second-straight game. The Golden Eagles hit just 12 of their 53 shots (22.6 percent), including 3 of 25 from three-point range, and set a new season low for points. It also was the fewest points in a region final since UCLA defeated San Francisco, 54-39, in 1973.
The two teams combined to connect on just eight of their 42 three-point attempts for the game.
But James Southerland (16 points), C.J. Fair (13 points) and Michael Carter-Williams (12 points) provided just enough offense and the Orange committed only six turnovers. It was more than enough to propel Syracuse to the Final Four, 10 years to the day after Carmelo and Co. gave Boeheim his last Elite Eight win. Syracuse will make its fifth-ever Final Four appearance, and Boeheim becomes just the fourth coach to reach Final Fours in four different decades.
Lest we forget, it was only three weeks ago that Syracuse left the same building after scoring a season-low 39 points in an embarrassing loss to Georgetown. We can only hope Boeheim has a retort to John Thompson’s infamous, “Manley Field House is officially closed” quip after this one. Stay tuned for updates.