WASHINGTON, D.C. – A quick take on Syracuse’s thrilling, but at times sloppy, 55-39 win over Marquette in the NCAA Elite Eight in front of a capacity crowd of 19,801 including President Obama at the Verizon Center Saturday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange (30-9) advanced to the Final Four for the first time in a decade by getting revenge for a regular season loss to the Golden Eagles. SU extended a six point halftime lead with key baskets inside and tough defense to keep Marquette (26-9) at bay in the second half. James Sutherland hit a couple of three’s to finish with 13 points, C.J. Fair was all over the place on offense scoring inside and out, and also had 13 points. Michael Carter-Williams had 11 rebounds, tops in the game.
ANALYSIS:In an offensive-challenged game by both teams in which the outside shooting was shoddy, the Orange resorted to driving to the hoop to get baskets or get to the foul line. The ‘Cuse defense, as its been all post-season, was terrific holding MU to 23% from the field and 12 turnovers, and the lowest point total in a NCAA regional final since 1973.
HERO: For guiding his team back from a dismal end of the regular season to a stellar post-season record of 7-1, Jim Boeheim is back in the Final Four for the fourth time, and first appearance since winning it all in 2003. Not too bad for his 37th season leading the program.
ZERO: Hey, a trip the Final Four means that this item shall go vacant, there’s no zeros to overcoming the odds of a 1-4 end of the regular season leading to cutting down the nets as East Region champions.
WHAT’S NEXT: The school’s fifth Final Four berth extending a streak of one Final Four appearance per decade since the 1970s. SU will face south region fellow 4th seed Michigan in the national semi-finals Saturday evening at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Time: 8:50 ET. TV: CBS.Brad Bierman (Follow on Twitter @BradBierman)