For a man who has been notoriously blunt in the past, Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim stayed true to his nature in his latest retort to critics Friday night. Following Syracuse's 63-60 win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Boeheim appeared to be fed up with the media labeling his team's run to the Elite Eight as "lucky" and "gifted" and repeatedly belittling Syracuse's opponents after the fact.
"I always thought Dayton was pretty darn good until we beat them, then they weren't any good. And then I thought Middle Tennessee was pretty good until we beat them, but then they weren't any good. So now I guess Gonzaga won't be any good tomorrow morning."
Syracuse doesn't control which teams it faces. And while the Orange may not have had to endure the most difficult path to the Elite Eight in terms of opponent's seeding – Dayton was a 7-seed, Middle Tennessee a 15-seed and Gonzaga an 11-seed – it appears that Boeheim and company aren't too fond of constantly being reminded of the fact.
While it may not be fair to criticize Syracuse for playing low-seeded opponents, the Orange are used to the criticism, having been doubted and chastised ever since Selection Sunday.
Soon after it was announced that Syracuse, with a then-record of 19-13, had sneaked into the NCAA tournament as a 10-seed, the selection was heavily condemned by pundits.
ESPN's bracketologist Joe Lunardi described Syracuse's inclusion in the tournament as "questionable." Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde called it "the most baffling in the entire tournament." And Fox Sports' Reid Forgrave thought it was just "plain silly."
Shortly after Syracuse's opening round 70-51 blowout win over Dayton, Boeheim finally lashed back at his critics when speaking with CBS Sports' Chip Patterson.
"Nobody that said we didn't deserve to be in obviously doesn't know anything about basketball. So we didn't think about it. They were just doing it to be cute and that's-we don't need to react to those things. And these guys don't listen to that stuff."
However, it didn't end there.
Waiting for Syracuse in the Round of 32 wasn't tournament-favorite 2-seed Michigan State. Instead, Syracuse faced 15-seed Middle Tennessee State University, who shockingly took down the Spartans in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history the round prior.
Middle Tennessee managed to carve up Michigan State's defense for 90 points in its miraculous win, shooting 55.9 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from three-point range. However, against Syracuse the Blue Raiders were held to just 50 points and shot a pedestrian 29.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three.
In his post-game press conference following Syracuse's 25-point blowout win, Boeheim quickly shot down the notion that Syracuse lucked out by avoiding Michigan State.
"The bottom line is, you get in and you have that opportunity, you're gonna have to beat someone good, it's as simple as that. I'm sure everybody thinks that we're happy that Michigan State got beat, but this team (MTSU) beat 'em, so it's not like it's gonna be an easy game. I'm just happy with the way we're playing-we've played like this, this year, quite a bit."
In the aftermath of its win over Gonzaga Friday night, Syracuse became one of the few teams in tournament history to advance to the Elite Eight after beating two double-digit seeded teams.
Has Syracuse received a fortunate draw? Most certainly. But don't expect Jim Boeheim and the Orange to apologize for it.