This game is going to be viewed in one of two different ways. Some will call it a defensive masterpiece by Syracuse, who managed to hold an opponent in an Elite Eight game to 39 total points. Others will likely call it what it was, a mess of a basketball game and hopefully not a precursor to what we have in store for the other Elite Eight games scheduled for the rest of the weekend.
All credit defensively goes to the Orange, who used their trapping 2-3 zone defense, held the Eagles to their lowest point total of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Marquette. After barely escaping the opening round against Davidson, the Eagles looked to be picking up speed in the region, but couldn’t have looked more embarrassing in the regional finals than they did.
Syracuse gave Marquette a brutal parting shot, as the two schools will no longer be playing in the Big East together next season, but the lasting memory of their final game against the Orange will stick with the Eagles for sometime now. The question for them is what are the repercussions of the embarrassing loss? Head coach Buzz Williams is already drawing interest from the Minnesota Gophers, and while it’s not the most attractive job in the country right now, he might try to sprint from this embarrassment as quickly as possible and get paid handsomely by the Gophers to do so.
But that’s not the concern of the Orange, who have rolled into the Final Four and are a game away from making their first NCAA National Championship appearance since winning it all back in 2003. In fact, it hasn’t been since the days of Carmelo Anthony that Syracuse has even made it to the Final Four, so this is without a doubt a high point once again in Jim Boeheim’s era of coaching (the others being trips to the Final Four in 1987 and 1996).
Syracuse will get either the Michigan Wolverines or the Florida Gators, both of whom are dangerous teams that seem to be heating up the closer they get to the Final Four. But for now, Syracuse is back in the Final Four and their itching to close things out and raise another banner back home.