Teams: Syracuse Orange (16-8, 10-7) vs. No. 16/15 Virginia Cavaliers (17-6, 13-4)
Day & Time: Thursday, March 11, noon ET
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
Line: Virginia -5
TV/Streaming: ESPN or ESPN2, WatchESPN
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Virginia Blog: Streaking the Lawn
Rivalry: 9-6, Virginia
Current Streak: 1, Virginia
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: Syracuse reverted to isolation ball against Virginia back on January 25. That resulted in a 37.9% field goal percentage and a 21.7% three-point field goal percentage for the Orange. The Cavaliers had much better success breaking down the Syracuse zone as Virginia shot 49.2% from the floor and 45.2% from three en route to a dominant 81-58 win over the Orange.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (45th year, 1,081-407) | Virginia - Tony Bennett (12th year, 294-102)
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 Hoos finished No. 17 in the polls.
Last Game: Virginia’s trademark defense held Louisville to a 36.8% field goal percentage. On the flip side, the Cavaliers shot 51.9% from the floor as Virginia won 68-58 at the KFC Yum! Center.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Sam Hauser is still lighting it up for Virginia. He had 24 points and eight rebounds in Virginia’s last game against Louisville. Hauser torched Syracuse for seven three pointers last time the teams played for 21 points and seven rebounds. He leads Virginia with 15.8 points per game and sits second in rebounds with 6.8 rebounds per game.
If Syracuse Wins: When’s the last time you enjoyed dancing?
If Syracuse Loses: When’s the right time to break out the whiskey for Selection Sunday?
Fun Fact: Virginia has held Syracuse to fewer than 70 points every time the schools have met since the Orange joined the ACC. The last time Syracuse scored more than 70 points against Virginia was in 2008, which resulted in a 73-70 win for the Orange.