Syracuse, North Carolina Punch Ticket to Big Dance
Syracuse, unheralded as a No. 10 seed in the Midwest Regional, is going to the Final Four. The Orange are the fourth double-digit seeded team in NCAA history to go to the Final Four.
And the 'Cuse rose to the occasion in shocking fashion.
Syracuse trailed Virginia 54-39 midway through the second half before going on a stunning 29-8 run in the final nine and a-half minutes. During one stretch, Syracuse scored 15 straight points. The final was 68-62 Syracuse. After the game, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he has "never been prouder" of any team in his 40-year coaching career.
Malachi Richardson scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half. Michael Gbinije and freshman Tyler Lydon each scored 11 points for Syracuse, which will play North Carolina on Saturday in one national semifinal.
North Carolina will be the lone No. 1 seed at the Final Four in Houston. The Tar Heels repelled a spirited Notre Dame comeback to beat the Irish 88-74 to win the East Regional. North Carolina is in the Final Four for a record 19th time, and the first since the Tar Heels won it all in 2009.
The Tar Heels had built an 11-point lead in the second half, lost it but regained their composure to regain the lead and win handily. Brice Johnson led the Tar Heels with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Paige added 13 points as all five North Carolina starters hit double figures.
The other two spots in the national semifinals in Houston were determined Saturday night with Villanova and Oklahoma advancing. They will play the first game next Saturday.
The championship game is Monday, April 4.