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Syracuse 64 - Wisconsin 63: Sweet Indeed

What is #21 doing??? Credit: Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE
What is #21 doing??? Credit: Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE

In what has to be the best game so far in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the Syracuse Orange got that Sweet Sixteen monkey off their backs by beating the Wisconsin Badgers 64-63.

The Orange will face the winner of the Ohio State - Cincinnati game on Saturday for the chance the play in the Final Four.

All week we heard the same things about the Orange. They can't rebound. They can't play slow ball. They can't force Wisconsin to turn the ball over.

Guess what? They out-rebounded Wisconsin. They played fast, slow and every speed in between. The forced Wisconsin to turn the ball over in bunches.

And that is how they ended up winning a game in which the Badgers made fourteen three-pointers and shot 50% from beyond the arc. It was impossible the way Wisky was making threes. At one point in the second-half, I'm pretty sure they made six in a row. Maybe more. Unbelievable.

And yet...we still won. We still clamped down in the final moments to win the game with a very zone-like stop, forcing a terrible shot. Brandon Triche put us on his back in the beginning of the game and C.J. Fair shook off yet another bad start to have the game of his career, finishing with 15 points and 7 rebounds.

Triche finished with 11 points, though he scored 9 in the first half. Scoop Jardine had 14 and did mostly great things (save for his bonehead play before the half). Dion Waiters had 13, including another one of those insane spin moves late.

Kris Joseph scored 7 and missed a critical free throw late that could have cost the Orange the game. Thankfully, the depth on the SU roster was there to bail him out.

Rakeem Christmas didn't do much of anything in the stat column and his counterpart, Baye Moussa Keita, fouled out. Neither did much, though neither was asked to do much (just not BOTH foul out).

Hats off to Wisconsin. That had to be the best shooting performance I've ever seen and they just refused to quit at any point. I felt like if Syracuse took their foot off the gas for a second, the Badgers would creep right back into the game. And if fact, that happened more than once.

And so, this Syracuse team that was supposed to have lost by now, advances to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003. It's a ceiling-shattering win for this fanbase and this program. Before the game I saw Syracuse fans mentioning that they were so nervous this felt like a championship game. While it wasn't, there was a lot riding on a Syracuse victory here.

Lose, and it's another year where Boeheim's critics run wild and Syracuse doubters get to "I told you so" us to death.

Win, and this insane, amazing, horrible, fun, sad, frustrating, fulfilling season rolls on.

In retrospect, we had to win. The script for the 2011-2012 Syracuse basketball season wouldn't feel right ending in the Sweet Sixteen. This season deserves to keep going, and so it shall.