After winning a thriller against Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, the Syracuse Orange took on the Virginia Cavaliers in Chicago for a shot at the Final Four. Both teams opened up with stellar play on the defensive end, but Virginia was able to soften up the Syracuse 2-3 zone as London Perrantes knocked down five first half threes.
Syracuse struggled mightily on offense against Virginia's pack-line defense. In the first half, the Orange shot 30.8 percent from the floor and 1-9 from three point land. Tyler Lydon made the only three of the first half and he had to do so with only one shoe.
Virginia eventually started working the zone through ball reversals and hitting the high-post. Once the Cavaliers started moving the ball in the half-court they were able to get open looks at the rim and Perrantes made Syracuse pay from deep. The Orange found itself in 35-21 hole at the half.
In the second half Syracuse fought back and eventually cut Virginia's lead to seven on another Lydon three -- this time with two shoes. Nonetheless, Virginia went on another run to put itself back up 14. Halfway through the second half, Jim Boeheim elected to bring on the press and Syracuse was able to force turnovers and force Virginia to speed up.
Syracuse cut Virginia's lead to nine when Malachi Richardson hit a step back three to get the Orange within six. On the ensuing possession, Syracuse continued its press and Richardson threw the ball off Virginia to get the ball back. Lydon then hit another three and it was a three point game. From that point, Richardson took the game over.
Syracuse was down 15 with 9:33 left, then Malachi Richardson happened. https://t.co/hRLesenJr8— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 28, 2016
During its run, Syracuse edged Virginia for a six point lead. Virginia fought back with its tough defense and had a look to tie the game with just under 20 seconds left. Devon Hall shot from the left wing and missed. Lydon rebounded, and was fouled. He made both to put Syracuse up five. Malcolm Brogdon forced up a three that went awry with less than five seconds left. Dajuan Coleman controlled the rebound and was fouled and at that point the game was over.
Syracuse won 68-62 to advance to the Final Four in an unlikely game and unlikely tournament. Syracuse is the first No. 10 seed to ever make it to the Final Four. Trevor Cooney will play in his second Final Four for the most in Syracuse history.