Things are heating up in Atlanta. Nick Baumgardner, who covers Michigan basketball for our sister site MLive.com, talked to players from both teams this afternoon. A war of words? Maybe not quite yet. But this is some fun stuff.
"You don’t get to where you are at without having really superb point guard play,’’ ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said. "We are seeing two really blue-chip point guards.’’
Thanks to a 2-3 zone defense that has baffled the previous four opponents, the Syracuse Orange are on their way to the Final Four for the first time in 10 years!
How Villanova beat them: "Honestly, we got lucky. We got lucky in that game. They missed some free throws down the stretch and we hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put it into overtime. … They led the entire game." – Wright
"I was hoping to make it to 38," Boeheim told me Thursday during a media session here at the Georgia Dome. "That's really the thought I had: Can I make it to 38?" As you know, Boeheim made it to 38. And 48. And 58. And 68.
"Listen, for the whole Tournament so far I’ve been for Syracuse," Hart said over the telephone Thursday evening. "I grew up a Syracuse fan. I went to games all the time in the Dome. It’s my childhood team. But I live in Michigan and I went to Michigan, so I’ve got to be for Michigan, man. No question about it."
"When you can win anywhere like John has and Rick has, when you can take programs to the NCAA (tournament) that never go there, you’re a really good coach,’’ Boeheim said. "I might not be. I can only win at Syracuse. That’s all I ever proved. But when you can win anywhere that means something.’’
"My confidence is real good," Stauskas said Friday, as Final Four players met with reporters. "Just seeing the ball go in after struggling for a few games, that was great. But really my confidence just comes from reps in practice, just getting a lot of shots up. And this week, I’ve been shooting the ball pretty well so just carrying that over into the game would be nice."
With Syracuse in the Final Four for the first time in a decade, pick up a copy of The Daily Orange’s Final Four special edition, on newsstands Friday through the weekend. Look inside for insight and information about the teams in the Final Four, the atmosphere in the Atlanta area where the games are being played, and a look through the archives at Syracuse’s lone national championship, in 2003. The theme for the edition is the ‘Final Faceoff,’ as the Orange, Michigan, Louisville and Wichita State battle to be crowned national champion.
The rules are simple. Make a starting five of Syracuse players based on the performances in their respective Final Fours. Two guards, two forwards, one center. Let's start in the back court.
4. Syracuse's Defense Has Been Ridiculous (in a Good Way) In four games, the Orange have allowed point totals of 34, 60, 50 and 39, good for an insane average of 45.8 ppg. Syracuse has also held all four of its tournament opponents below 28 percent shooting from outside the paint.
Clark Kellogg of CBS Sports, who will call the Final Four along with Jim Nantz this weekend, says as much as some would like to see those two square off, you can't force a storyline.
As the collegiate nation turns its eyes to Atlanta this weekend, here's a guide on where to go to fulfill all of life's needs.
"Somebody said you could've won more, and that's OK," said Boeheim, who sounded like it isn't OK. "Very few coaches get to the final and even fewer win it. The biggest problem with any coach is when you have a good team and people think you have an even better team. You don't get to have bad years at Syracuse or some other schools. They expect you to win and when you don't win, then you're too old or something else they come up with."