As the Syracuse Orange prepare to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels for the third time this season, this is a good time to look back at the three previous NCAA meetings between the two schools. Syracuse is 2-1 against UNC in NCAA Tournament play
The first meeting between the two schools occurred in 1957 at the East Regional final played in Philadelphia at the historic Palestra. This was the 1st NCAA appearance from Syracuse and they advanced to the Elite Eight by defeating Connecticut and Lafayette. UNC won this game 67-58 on their way to an undefeated season and the 1st NCAA title in UNC history. Led by head coach Frank McGuire and star player, Lennie Rosenblum, the Tar Heels used a 33-10 advantage at the foul line to advance to the Final Four. Syracuse was led by Vinnie Cohen, who scored 25 points. Overall, the Orange shot 24 for 75 from the field (32%) and 10 for 23 from the foul line (43.5%).
It would take nearly 20 years for the next SU-UNC meeting. In 1975, the two schools met in the Sweet Sixteen of the East Regional played in Providence. Syracuse won 78-76 on their way to the 1st Final Four appearance in school history. The Orange were led by Jimmy Lee who scored 24 points and hit the game-winning shot. It was a major upset over a UNC team, which featured Phil Ford and Mitch Kupchak. Syracuse defeated Kansas State in overtime to win the East and advance to the Final Four, where they lost to Kentucky.
The Orange and Tar Heels faced off again in 1987, and once again it was in the East Regional, and once again it was for the opportunity to get to the Final Four. UNC was the #1 seed in the region and they were expected to roll to the Final Four behind the tandem of Kenny Smith and J.R. Reid. Instead, Syracuse raced out to a 41-30 halftime lead and held on for a 79-75 win. Rony Seikaly dominated the Tar Heels inside. Seikaly finished with 26 points (on 11 for 15 shooting from the field) and 11 rebounds. Derrick Coleman added 14 rebounds as Syracuse enjoyed a 38-26 rebounding advantage over the favored Tar Heels, including 17 offensive rebounds. The effort on the boards combined with 52% shooting from the field helped the Orange overcome a 10-17 performance from the foul line.
The full game is available for viewing here. I recommend going to at least check out the sweet Orange script Syracuse jerseys in action, and to see some classic Boeheim sideline hysterics in the final minute.
Let's hope Syracuse can extend the NCAA winning streak over UNC to three games this Saturday night.