The Syracuse Orange have been to six Final Fours, and in all but one (2003, obviously), they’ve lost.
SU’s most recent Final Four loss came to the North Carolina Tar Heels, who also happen to be Monday night’s opponent. The Heels aren’t the first Final Four foe to appear on the Orange’s schedule again. Actually, every team that’s knocked Syracuse out in the final weekend has appeared on the slate within the next few years.
Unfortunately for SU, they’re 1-3 in those games so far. Monday night’s game vs. UNC would be the fifth such opportunity, and a chance to get to a more respectable 2-3 in these types of games.
Following a 1975 Final Four loss to Kentucky, SU wouldn’t play the Wildcats again until 1978, but Syracuse fell 94-87 in Lexington. After 1987’s brutal title game defeat at the hands of Indiana (thanks, Keith “Foodlion” Smart), the Orangemen and Hoosiers met on a neutral floor and SU exacted some revenge in a 102-78 rout.
In the two Final Four rematches since, things went south again for SU, however. Just seven months removed from the 1996 title game, Kentucky ran all over the Orangemen 87-53 that same year. Moving ahead nearly 20 years, Michigan followed up 2013’s close Final Four win with an even closer one in 2014 — a 68-65 triumph at Ann Arbor.
These games are obviously not related, other than the circumstances that created them. So while it’s interesting to take a look at trends, each is an independent event. Surely any team’s first matchup against an opponent that beat them in the Final Four adds some extra emotion and motivation. Now we see if this time around, Syracuse can translate that into a much-needed upset. Though there’s plenty of carryover from last year on this UNC squad, this SU team doesn’t have as many memories from April’s Final Four. Perhaps that serves as an advantage on Monday night.