Day & Time: Monday, January 25, 7 p.m. ET
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.
Line: Virginia -6.5
TV/Streaming: ESPN, WatchESPN
Virginia Blog: Streaking the Lawn
Rivalry: 8-6, Virginia
Current Streak: 1, Syracuse
First Meeting: Syracuse was a three-seed heading into the 1984 NCAA tournament. Virginia earned a seven-seed and met the Orange in the Sweet 16. The Cavaliers pulled off a 63-55 upset to send Syracuse home. Pearl Washington only scored eight points in the loss. Virginia made it to the Final Four of the tournament, which was eventually won by Georgetown.
Last Meeting: If offense is what you like, Syracuse-Virginia was not the matchup to tune in for last year. The two teams combined for a 32.3 field goal percentage in their January 11, 2020 meeting in a game that went into overtime tied at 43. Somehow, the Orange scored more points in the five-minute overtime period then in the 20-minute second half thanks to a barrage of threes, including a miracle shot from Buddy Boeheim with the shot clock expiring. The hot Orange hands in overtime led to a 63-55 victory.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (45th year, 1,074-403) | Virginia - Tony Bennett (12th year, 287-98)
Coach Bio: Bennett still holds the NCAA record for career three-point field goal percentage at 49.7%. He shot over 50% during his junior and senior seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, playing for his father Dick Bennett. The younger Bennett would be selected 35th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1992 NBA draft and play for three seasons in the NBA. He would play in New Zealand for two seasons with the North Harbour Vikings, becoming the team’s head coach during his second year.
After Bennett’s tenure in New Zealand, he joined his father as an assistant coach at Wisconsin and stayed there after he retired until 2003, when Dick Bennett came out of retirement to lead Washington State. The younger Bennett followed his father to the Cougars and was an assistant for one season before being promoted to associate head coach. He stayed in that role for two seasons until his father’s retirement in 2006 and subsequently became head coach of Washington State. The Cougars immediately won 26 games during Bennett’s first two seasons as head coach, making the NCAA tournament both times. Washington State went to the Round of 32 in Bennett’s first year and to the Sweet 16 in his second season.
After a down year in his third season at Washington State, Bennett became the head coach of Virginia. While the Cavaliers struggled in his first two seasons, Virginia has won at least 20 games and finished at least fifth in the ACC since then. Virginia has made the NCAA tournament seven times under Bennett and won the 2019 NCAA tournament.
Last Year: Virginia started to struggle in the middle of the season after five losses to unranked opponents, including the January 11 game against Syracuse. After a loss to then No. 5 Louisville, the Cavaliers rolled off eight straight wins to end the season, including victories over then No. 7 Duke and a revenge win over then No. 10 Louisville. Virginia would earn the second seed in the ACC tournament but would not play due to the tournament’s cancellation because of the coronavirus. The Cavaliers finished No. 17 in the polls.
Last Game: Virginia rallied from an 11-point deficit to Wake Forest to barely edge out a 64-62 victory over Georgia Tech. Kehei Clark’s only basket of the game came with 1:08 left in the game to win the game for the Cavaliers. Sam Hauser, Virginia’s leading scorer, scored a season high 22 points with four threes.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: If you watched any of the Syracuse-Virginia games from last season, you’ll certainly remember who Jay Huff is. The 7-foot-1 forward scored 27 points and grabbed 22 rebounds over Virginia’s two games against Syracuse last season. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season, second in both categories to Hauser.
If Syracuse Wins:
If Syracuse Loses: At least you didn’t have to hear Dan Dakich compare Huff to Anthony Davis.
Fun Fact: The January 11 game last year was Syracuse’s first victory over Virginia at John Paul Jones arena as a member of the ACC.