UNITED STATES—The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has gone from 68 teams to the remaining four. There have been many upsets along the way, and one very unlikely suitor has scrapped their way to the Final Four.
The Syracuse Orange made history by becoming the first 10-seed to reach the last weekend of the tournament (a few 11-seeds have advanced to the Final Four, but never a 10-seed). Some upsets in the Midwest region gave the Orange a slightly easier road than many experts expected. Syracuse has been playing well as of late but not many people gave them a chance of getting past Michigan State in the third round of the tournament. To the dismay of many brackets, the Spartans lost to Middle Tennessee State in the second round, giving the Orange a date with a 15-seed in the round of 32.
After getting past the Blue Raiders fairly easy, they rallied late to knock off the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who happened to also be a lower seed than Syracuse.
The Elite 8 matchup gave the Orange their first true test of the tournament as they faced off against the number 1-seed in the region, the University of Virginia. The two teams played earlier in the season on Virginia’s home court, and the Cavaliers won by eight. This game was played on neutral ground and Syracuse had the glimmer of Cinderella twinkling in their eye. The Orange went on a 21-2 run to finish the game and seal their invitation to the Final Four with a 68-62 victory.
The only number 1-seed to make the Final Four is the North Carolina Tar Heels. This is North Carolina’s 19th Final Four appearance, which leads all collegiate programs. They will take on the surging Syracuse Orange, in what should be an entertaining ACC bout.
The other matchup features two number 2-seeds, the Villanova Wildcats who won the south region, and the Oklahoma Sooners who won the west region. Villanova knocked off the tournament favorite Kansas Jayhawks in the round of 8. Oklahoma, who has arguably the best player in the country in Buddy Hield, all but beat Oregon by halftime and held on to punch their ticket to earn a match-up with the Wildcats.
The battleground for the two electrifying games will be the beautiful NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Tip-off is set for Saturday, April 2, with the championship game being held two days later on Monday, April 4.
Can Syracuse complete its cinderella story or will the glass slipper shatter and the Naismith Trophy fall into the hands of one of the favorites? America will be watching on Saturday.