The ACC regular season came to a close Saturday with an upset in Louisville, a solid win at Notre Dame and small deaths up and down the conference.
|Final ACC Standings|
But not for State.
The Pack has been revitalized of late.
Since losing to Virginia on Feb. 11, 51-47, State has won five of its last six, including wins over Louisville and UNC.
Add Syracuse to the total.
State laid the groundwork for some nasty payback, and therefor the roots of an intense rivalry, by taunting Jim Boeheim over his woes and singing the '70s Village People song "YMCA."
State ran off a 27-2 run in the first and second half and ultimately won 71-57.
This is a team that is improving at exactly the right time. It has a young core and a chance to make a run, possibly a deep run, in March.
After the game, Jim Boeheim annoyed the media by not coming out for a press conference. Instead, he sent assistant Mike Hopkins, who generally said all the right things and then, with the rest of the team, flew back to Syracuse to watch as the rest of the conference plays on for at least another weekend in every case.
Syracuse is voluntarily sitting out due to NCAA violations. Saturday, we learned just how serious the academic fraud charges are.
It's not just the normal stuff, tutors writing papers and so forth.
There were other issues, but it rotated around keeping Fab Melo eligible. The A.D., if you can believe it, called a meeting to think of ways to keep Melo playing ball.
He included the director of basketball operations, the faculty's athletic rep, director of student-athletic services and two deputy A.D.'s.
You can read the details here; suffice it to say that Syracuse was determined to keep him eligible at any price.
Louisville handed UVA only its second loss of the season, winning on an unlikely shot by Mangok Mathiang, 59-57.
Rick Pitino: "Mangok was the 64th option."
It doesn't much matter to Virginia, which will finish first in the ACC and almost surely get a #1 seed.
Miami knocked off 82-61, Pitt fell to FSU 61-52, BC hammered Wake Forest 79-61 and Notre Dame thumped Clemson 81-67.