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Jim Boeheim becomes master of exceeding March expectations

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An odd turnaround for a career many once characterized very differently.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional Practice Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We’re all well-versed in the critiques levied at Syracuse Orange coach Jim Boeheim over the years. His near-misses, a major upset at the hands of Richmond, his top-ranked teams that never quite advanced as far as onlookers felt they should; all of it informed the characterization of a coach that had fallen short of what he could’ve done.

Boeheim changed all of that with a national title in 2003, and the program’s recent run of success has only fueled a new narrative: as the king of DEFYING expectations in March. Obviously an amazing turnaround there, and one we’re happy to welcome. It helps that in the last three years, SU is now 7-1 as a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament. But nonetheless, the old coach has rewritten his narrative a bit as the ultimate underdog. That’s not so easy to do.

Jim Boeheim is the new king of March Madness (FiveThirtyEight)

In fact, it was Syracuse’s victory over Michigan State this month that allowed Boeheim to pass Izzo. (Syracuse had only a 19 percent chance of winning, based on the two teams’ pre-tournament Elo ratings.) Going into the second week of this year’s tourney, Boeheim finds himself at the top of a heap that also includes fellow Sweet 16 entrants John Calipari (Kentucky), John Beilein (Michigan) and, of course, Coach K.

A begrudging appreciation of Syracuse basketball (The Ringer)

I am conditioned to root against Syracuse, but I have grown to respect their troll game. And on Friday, my only other option is Duke. I am drinking the orange juice. It is horribly acidic and filled with pulp, but I’m drinking it. Go Syracuse.

Syracuse continues to pay off for ACC, has made most money in NCAA Tournament so far (Syracuse.com)

The performance of Syracuse basketball’s amateur athletes has been worth nearly $6.6 million to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the most of any team currently playing in the Sweet 16. That achievement can be attributed to the fact that SU was forced to play an extra game in the First Four, allowing the Orange to earn an extra financial unit.

Why Duke had a hard time scoring on Syracuse the last time the two teams played (News & Observer)

Scoring was hard to come by for both Duke and Syracuse. Duke’s 60 points was its lowest of the season. Syracuse’s 44 points was the second fewest Duke had given up this season. That can be partially attributed to both teams running a zone defense the entire game. The zone slowed the pace of the game and there were fewer opportunities for both teams to score.

Syracuse’s usual formula won’t work against Duke (Daily Orange)

Fans have seemed to embrace the grind-it-out approach that’s worked for Syracuse this past week, relishing when national media members break out their annual think pieces about why the zone might be bad for college basketball. Even if SU’s game isn’t aesthetically pleasing, it’s working.

How Jim Boeheim, the oldest coach in D1 basketball, stays in shape (Daily Orange)

While lighthearted in that moment, Boeheim takes his workouts seriously, and he has for four-plus years. After not working out for the majority of his coaching career, Boeheim, 73, turned to working out to help with knee pain. Now exercising two mornings per week, the 42-year head coach credits his good health to Pilates, the German-based exercise focused on stabilizing the body’s core through slow, precise movements and specific breathing techniques which elongate the body’s muscles.

D.A. On The Syracuse Media Mafia And Our Basketball Team (CBS Sports Radio)

Which of the 6 Cinderella-ish teams in the Sweet 16 have the best Final Four shot? (SB Nation)

Big East recommends replacing 1-and-done with 2-or-none (Syracuse.com)

How Duke Transformed its Defense from a Susceptible Shortcoming to a Special, Stifling Zone (Sports Illustrated)