Day & Time: Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m. EST
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
Line: Virginia opened as a 7-point favorite and ESPN’s BPI gives the Cavaliers an 84.2-percent chance of beating Syracuse
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Virginia blog: Streaking the Lawn
Rivalry: 6-5, Hoos
Current Streak: 2, UVA
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 Orangemen. Syracuse came into the game as a three-seed, while UVA was a 7-seed coming off a major upset of two-seed Arkansas in the second round.
Rafael Addison led the Orangemen with 18 points and Sean Kerins secured 12 boards in the loss. This game was also interesting because it did not feature Virginia blowing a double-digit deficit.
Last Meeting: Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, hide yo husband, and hide yo eyes!
Virginia held Syracuse to its lowest point total in the history of the Carrier Dome, people. The Hoos suffocated the Orange, 59-44. Woof. De’Andre Hunter’s 15 points led the Cavs, and Kyle Guy (not Kyle’s guy), contributed another 14.
Sophomore Tyus Battle scored 15 points of his own, but that came on 6 of 17 shooting from the floor. It was bad all around, though. Frank Howard made 4 of 17 shots for 11 points and Oshae Brissett finished with just nine points.
It was ugly, folks.
Syracuse only got as close as nine points early in the second half, but UVA locked it up shortly there after with a 12-0 run.
(Watch the highlights at your own peril. And please, for the love of God, make sure the children aren’t around.)
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (43rd year, 1,046-381); Virginia: Tony Bennett (10th year, 243–88—312–121 overall)
Coach Bio: Anthony
Dominick Benedetto, known professionally as Tony Bennett, is an American singer Bennett was a record-setting three-point shooter for Wisconsin Green Bay, then played a few years in the NBA before heading to Australia and New Zealand.
It was overseas where Bennett 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 and then went to UVA and immediately upped the Cavaliers’ 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. Which brings us to...
Last Year: I could write about Virginia’s 31-win season here. Or fill up this space describing how the Cavaliers won the regular-season ACC title with an eye-popping record of 17-1. Oh yeah, don’t forget that the Hoos also won the ACC tourney championship by taking out Louisville, Clemson and North Carolina.
That team was scary good.
The thing is, last year’s UVA squad, which entered the NCAA Tournament as the overall number one seed, will forever be known as the team that lost to a 16 seed. You might not remember that Virginia was playing without De’Andre Hunter, as the ACC Sixth Man of the Year suffered a broken wrist in the conference tourney. That’s something that gets forgotten.
Then again, who cares?
A No. 1 seed was not only defeated by a 16 seed for the first time ever, it was actually blown out, 74-54. Most basketball fans thought they would never see that type of upset, at least not at that point and not in that fashion.
The crushing and embarrassing loss might give the Wahoos the fuel they need to not only make a Final Four run. The nightmares of last March might be the extra additive to finally bring home another championship to Charlottesville.
Counterpoint: anything Virginia does in the regular season, or in conference tournament play, is just a prelude to another March Madness flame-out. And this particular team is either going to finally flip the script, or it’s going to succumb to incredible pressure in a couple of weeks.
Last Game: Kyle Guy scored 17 points, with 15 of those coming on five 3-pointers, as Virginia humbled Pittsburgh at home, 73-49 Saturday. In a rout from tip, the Cavs led the Panthers by a score of 39-19 at the half. So, in other words, it was a classic UVA win.
Actually, Virginia enters tonight’s game looking for a victory on a Monday night following a Saturday game for the third time this season. Previously, the Cavaliers defeated then No. 5 North Carolina and then No. 20 Virginia Tech as the visiting opponent on Big Monday.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: De’Andre Hunter put up 15 points in the Dome last year and has been a consistent star for Virginia so far this season. The sophomore is leading the Hoos in scoring (15.2 ppg) and is second in rebounding (5.3 rpg). Hunter missed that devastating loss to UMBC last March and his play this year, coupled with the collective sting of being defeated by a 16-seed, could really be what makes Virginia different, more dangerous than ever.
Don’t forget about Kyle Guy, who is hitting threes at nearly 44 percent this season, and is an experienced and battle-tested guard with plenty of games in the bag playing against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.
Actually, Between Hunter, Guy and Ty Jerome, the Cavaliers have a trio of players who are dangerous and can knock down open shots from distance.
If Syracuse Wins: NCAA Tournament berth? Book it.
The Orange might still have work to do right now to feel fully comfortable when it comes to Selection Sunday. But should Syracuse take down the second-ranked team in the country, after having already won at then-No. 1 Duke, there would be no debating that Jim Boeheim’s team belongs in the Big Dance, maybe even with a decent seed, too. (Not a top four or five seed, obviously, but maybe Syracuse could work itself on to the seven line given the typical “weak” bubble we’re seeing again this year.)
If Syracuse Loses: Virginia is really, really good at November-through-early-March basketball. Losing to the No. 2 Cavs outside of the NCAA Tournament is not something that should cause any shame whatsoever.
Fun Fact No. 1: I’m a nerd who was (too many years ago now) a journalism minor and history major. So let me relish in the fact that the University of Virginia was founded by some guy named Thomas Jefferson. And two years before it officially opened, Jefferson sat with James Madison and James Monroe as initial construction on campus began for the school in 1817. That’s some cool, history-buff stuff right there.
Fun Fact No. 2: The University of Maryland-Baltimore County was officially established within the state’s system in 1966.