Rushed Reactions: #10 Syracuse 68, #1 Virginia 62

Posted by Bennet Hayes on March 27th, 2016

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCEastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCSouthregion and @RTCWestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

Syracuse stunned Virginia in the Midwest Regional Final to advance to the Final Four. (Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Syracuse stunned Virginia in the Midwest Regional Final to advance to the Final Four. (Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

  1. Late Syracuse surge stuns Virginia. When London Perrantes hit his sixth three of the game with 9:33 to go, the Cavaliers led by 15 points (54-39). The Orange looked tired, Virginia appeared as steady as ever, and there seemed little doubt that Tony Bennett was minutes away from his first trip to the Final Four. Then everything changed. Syracuse uncorked a six-minute, 25-4 run that lifted the Orange into the driver’s seat. An experienced, methodical Virginia team unraveled, while Syracuse’s collection of talented but enigmatic freshmen – most notably Malachi Richardson – seized the moment in forcing turnovers and converting on the opposite end. The Midwest region surprised from opening tip last Thursday all the way through to the final minutes this evening.
  2. ACC Player of the Year struggles. Malcolm Brogdon probably didn’t expect his career to end today, and particularly not in the fashion in which it did. The Cavaliers’ star made just two of his 14 field goal attempts, including just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. Tonight was also a poor display of Brogdon’s normally paralyzing individual defense, as he struggled to contain Richardson late in the second half. Brogdon did some things well – he handed out seven assists and made all seven of his free throw attempts – but his subpar effort was an undeniably critical element of the Virginia loss.
  3. Finally time to respect the Orange. Jim Boeheim mentioned on Friday that it seemed like every Syracuse opponent in this NCAA Tournament was suddenly considered bad once they lost to the Orange. That trend will be unlikely to continue after tonight. Beating Dayton, Middle Tennessee State and Gonzaga – all seeded #7 or higher – shouldn’t be discarded as nothing, but tonight’s takedown of a national title contender has to fully validate this unexpected postseason run. They may not head to Houston as a Final Four favorite, but Boeheim’s team has proven it must be taken seriously.

Star of the Game. Malachi Richardson, Syracuse. The gifted Syracuse freshman was the key player in the Syracuse comeback, scoring 14 points in the decisive 25-4 spurt that sent the Orange into the Final Four. His three-pointer over Brogdon, the ACC Player of the Year, with three and a half minutes to play put the Orange up six and should stand as the most memorable bucket in a wild regional final. He finished with 23 points and seven rebounds.


  • “I’ll tell you guys what I told them [Brogdon, Gill, and Tobey]… weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning… joy will come in the morning for what these guys did for Virginia basketball.” – Tony Bennett, Virginia head coach, on what he told his seniors after the game.
  • “It’s difficult, but at the same time you start to reminisce, remember the good times.” – Malcolm Brogdon, when asked about his emotional state as his collegiate career comes to a close.
  • “I thought we deserved to be in the Tournament, but I wasn’t planning on getting to the Final Four.” – Jim Boeheim.
  • “He’s about the only guy I think would take it. The ref was funny, he said ‘I think he’s better with his shoe off.’” – Boeheim, on Tyler Lydon making a first half three-pointer with one shoe off.

Sights & Sounds. Syracuse fans brought the Carrier Dome tradition of standing and clapping until the Orange’s first made field goal to the United Center. They were left standing for a few minutes of game action at the start of the second half, as the Orange struggled to find their way offensively. Virginia supporters did not come out in droves (again), making for a relatively unenthusiastic Elite Eight atmosphere until the final 10 minutes. For that final quarter, however, it felt like this regional final was being played in upstate New York.

What’s Next? Syracuse advances to the most unexpected Final Four appearance in program history. They will face another ACC opponent upon arriving in Houston – the winner of tonight’s East regional final between North Carolina and Notre Dame. Virginia’s season ends in stunning fashion, along with the careers of Brogdon, Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey.

BHayes (244 Posts)

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