Teams: Syracuse Orange (12-4, 1-2) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (14-1, 3-0)
Day & Time: Tuesday, January 9, 2018, 8 p.m. ET
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.
Line: Syracuse, +9.5
TV/Streaming: ACC Network (check your local listings)/ACC Network Extra
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Virginia blog: Streaking the Lawn
Rivalry: 5-4, Syracuse
Current Streak: 2, Orange
First Meeting: During the last stretch where the Hoos were sort of good, these teams met in the 1984 NCAA Tournament -- a 63-55 loss for the Orange. Syracuse was a three-seed, while UVA was a 7-seed after upsetting two-seed Arkansas in round two. Rafael Addison led Syracuse with 18 points and Sean Kerins had 12 boards. This game was also interesting because it did not feature Virginia blowing a double-digit deficit.
Last Meeting: In the latest instance of UVA blowing a double-digit deficit to Syracuse, the Orange trailed 34-22 at half, then went on a rapid 19-2 run to open the second and take the lead. The Hoos would narrow the gap to two in the closing minutes, but SU shut the door late en route to a 66-62 win — Jim Boeheim’s 1,000th as head coach despite whatever the NCAA thinks.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,016-361); Virginia: Tony Bennett (9th year, 202-84)
Anthony Dominick Benedetto, known professionally as Tony Bennett, is an American singer Bennett was a record-setting three-point shooter for Green Bay, then played a few years in the NBA before heading to Australia and New Zealand. There, he got the coaching bug (though being the son of Dick Bennett also helped) and after leading the North Harbour Kings in 1998-99, Tony came back to the U.S. to be an assistant at Wisconsin. He moved out to Washington State in 2003 as an assistant, then took over the full gig in 2006. Bennett succeeded at Wazzu, then went to UVA and immediately upped their level of play. The Hoos have become tournament fixtures when not losing to Syracuse, though they’ve still yet to make the Final Four under Bennett.
Last Year: Virginia took a slight step back, going just 23-11 and 10-7 in the ACC. The defense was still pretty good, however, and they found a new hateable figure (for us) in Kyle Guy, formerly of man-bun fame. They squeaked by UNC-Wilmington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, then got smoked by Florida in round two. See? It’s not just us and Wisconsin tripped them up lately.
Last Game: Virginia humbled North Carolina, 61-49 the other day. UNC didn’t even shoot 30 percent from the floor, and lost despite a 12-rebound advantage. The Hoos did what they normally do, frustrating the hell out of anyone in the paint and forcing jumpshots. UVA was good enough from the floor at 45 percent, which was ultimately enough to get the win.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: It’s Kyle Guy, that frustrating UVA player you already dislike just on principle alone. He scores nearly 15 points per game and hits over 44 percent of his threes. Guy’s also a great free throw shooter, as you’d imagine. He has no man-bun anymore, as mentioned above. This may be for the best.
Jack Ferguson Memorial Random Three-Point Performance: It’ll probably be Guy, who’s not random, lighting us up from outside. So let’s instead pick someone more obscure. Nigel Johnson (35.5 percent on 31 attempts) is as close as we’ll get there, despite his 20 minutes per game making him a bit more of a known entity.
If Syracuse Wins: Everything’s right back on track, as the Orange would grab a signature win on the road -- something that never came last year. It would also confirm that Syracuse is, in fact, in Tony Bennett’s head (along with the heads of every single Hoos fan at this point). A win wouldn’t seal an NCAA Tournament trip, by any means. But it would certainly go a very long way come decision time.
If Syracuse Loses: Wouldn’t be overly surprising, but still not great to see yet another Orange defeat. Plus, all the UVA jokes would be less fun. And we don’t want that.
Fun Fact No. 1: Over the course of nine meetings since the first in 1984, these teams have played quite a few low-scoring games. Just once did both teams manage a final score in the 70s (SU’s 73-70 win in 2008), and the highest score in the series was 75 by UVA in 2014 win. Things are even lower scoring in the teams’ three NCAA meetings. Syracuse’s 68 in 2016 were the most either team has scored against one another in the tournament.
Fun Fact No. 2: Chrysophobia is the fear of the color orange, which sounds like a weird thing for Virginia (a school whose secondary color is orange) to have. However, should Syracuse pull off an upset on Tuesday night, the conversation might need to be brought up for Hoos fans.
Fun Fact No. 3: (obviously)