Perhaps you stop watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament once the Syracuse Orange are eliminated. But if not, hey, it’s still going on!
Rather than implore you to root for a certain team (anyone but Baylor!), it seemed interesting that Syracuse has at least some history with all of these coaches, and three of these four teams.
So if you want to use this article as a guide for who to root for, go ahead, based on the historical narratives, I guess.
Though Syracuse and the Zags have faced off just twice ever, both meetings were within the last 12 years, and the Orange won them both. The first is largely unmemorable, am 87-65 victory in the second round of the 2010 NCAAs. As for the other, you surely recall SU’s rally to beat Gonzaga in the 2016 Sweet 16, 63-60.
We were pretty excited about a tough game with Baylor in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and then Frank Howard missed the game and the Orange got run off the court late in a 78-69 loss. Before that, SU was 2-0 against the Bears, besting them in both 2006 and 2013. The Orange also beat head coach Scott Drew a third time back in 2002, as Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points in an 81-66 victory.
No need to relive whatever this was. Syracuse lost to Houston less than a week ago, 62-46 in the Sweet 16. ‘Cuse also beat Houston 92-87 back in 1982. The Orange are 1-1 against coach Kelvin Sampson, with a loss this year and a win during the 2003 tournament en route to SU’s national championship.
UCLA is the only one of these four teams without any recent history against Syracuse. The teams split a home-and-home in 1999 and 2000, with the home team winning both times.
However, they are pretty familiar with coach Mick Cronin, who they shared a conference with from 2006-13, when he was in charge at Cincinnati. Interestingly, SU’s only ever faced the Bearcats when they were both members of the Big East.
Cronin went 2-6 against the Orange, including a 71-68 upset win in the 2012 Big East Tournament. He was also on staff at Louisville for a home and home split between Syracuse and the Cards, with each home team taking a W.
Personally, I’m rooting for UCLA here, but I doubt anyone can stop the Gonzaga juggernaut at this point? Will Zags fans print tees about being undefeated before it happened and bring them to Indianapolis like Kentucky fans did in 2015? Will Frank Kaminsky find a way to show up and squash these dreams too? Should be an interesting — even if not close — weekend of basketball ahead.