The most improbable run of the 2016 NCAA Tournament lives on! The Syracuse Orange bounced the Midwest region's top seed Virginia in an enormous and unlikely comeback as they now go back to the Final Four for the first time since 2013.
Syracuse, down 15 with 9:20 left to play, and as much as 16 in the second half, went on a miraculous 29-8 run to close out the game and the season for Virginia, 68-62. Freshmen guard Malachi Richardson had an outstanding second half and was the catalyst in the team's comeback as he scored 21 of his 23 points in the period. He was named the Midwest region's most outstanding player.
"It was a whole team effort and these guys really deserve it," head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We beat a great basketball team. I've never been prouder in all my 40 years as coach of a basketball team as I am of this team tonight."
Syracuse now joins the 1986 LSU Tigers (#11), 2006 George Mason (#11), and 2011 VCU (#11) teams to emerge as double-digit seeds to advance to the Final Four since seeding began in 1979. The Orange now advance to their 6th Final Four in school history, all under Boeheim.
"We had a lot of doubters," forward Tyler Lydon said. "A lot of people who believed we shouldn't even be in this tournament. I'm sure there are still a lot of people who think that. But we know what we can do as a team and that's all that matters."
The Cavaliers committed 13 turnovers, leading to 15 Syracuse points. Most of their struggles put on by Syracuse's full court press and 2/3 zone forced the Cavaliers to shoot 35.7 percent in the second half.
"It was in our grasp, but credit goes to Syracuse for some of the plays they made," coach Tony Bennett said. "I think some of our points off turnovers probably cost us. We didn't convert on some things, had some errors, but played well enough in stretches."
The Orange are tied with the the 2000 Wisconsin and North Carolina teams with the most losses headed into the Final Four with 13.
Orange sixth-man Tyler Lydon is having an under-the-radar historic tournament as only Anthony Davis, Kevin Love and Alonzo Mourning have more blocks as freshmen in the NCAA tourney than the big-man.
"It was a great comeback, one of the best I've coached in, any team I've had, in terms of you're playing, I think, a great team," Boeheim said.
With the women in the Final Four as well, this is the 12th time in history that the men and the women's basketball team from the same school have reached the Final Four in the same season.
The Orange are now set to face the last remaining #1 seed left in the men's tournament, North Carolina who beat Notre Dame to advance to the Final Four. Syracuse dropped both of its meetings against North Carolina this season, losing 84-73 on Jan. 9 and 75-70 on Feb. 29.