Instant Juice: Syracuse 68, Virginia 62

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Syracuse is headed to the Final Four

A quick take on Syracuse’s 68-62 win against Virginia to capture the Midwest Regional Championship:

WHAT HAPPENED: After London Parrantes’ 3-pointer with 9:33 left extended Virginia’s lead to 54-39, the Orange went on an improbable 25-4 run to wrestle the lead back from Virginia. Eventually, SU opened up a 64-58 with 3:27 left. Devin Hall had an opportunity to tie the game with 14 seconds left, but his 3 was too strong, and Tyler Lydon rebounded and nailed a pair of free throws to send the 10th seeded Orange (the first time a 10 seed has made the Final Four) to Houston.

» Related: Syracuse hoping to jumpstart season in NCAA Tourney

ANALYSIS: Has there been a more improbable NCAA Tournament run in Syracuse history? The answer has to be no. The Orange, seeded 10th, and considered by many not to even be a worthy NCAA team, is now among the last four standing. The closest comparison would likely be the 1996 team, which ended up falling short in the championship game. But even that team was seeded fourth, and headlined by a sure-fire NBA first round pick (John Wallace). This team, which had lost five of six to close the season, and was an underdog for three of its four wins, appeared to be completely out of it late in the second half. But this win was the definition of March Madness, with SU summoning one of the greatest rallies in school history.

HERO: Malachi Richardson started the game ice cold, but rebounded in the second half to lead Syracuse with 23 points, 15 of them coming in the final 10 minutes of the game. Fellow freshman Lydon finished with five blocks after blocking 12 shots in SU’s previous two games. He also scored 11 points to go with six rebounds. Perrantes was 6-10 from downtown for 18 points, but did most of his damage in the first half, and was quiet during SU’s run.

ZERO: Malcolm Brogdon, the ACC’s first Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, shot just 2-14 from the field, though he did contribute seven rebounds and assists.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse now heads to the Final Four to face the winner of Notre Dame/North Carolina. It is the Orange’s second Final Four appearance since 2013.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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