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ACC Roundup - Syracuse Upsets UVA, Will Play UNC In Final Four

As the ACC gets half of the final quartet.

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Mar 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim waves to the crowd after cutting down the net after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in the championship game of the midwest regional of the NCAA Tournament at the United Center.
Mar 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim waves to the crowd after cutting down the net after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in the championship game of the midwest regional of the NCAA Tournament at the United Center.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Final Four is set with Villanova, Oklahoma, Syracuse and UNC.

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The Heels are the last #1 seed standing as the other three took out Kansas, Oregon and Virginia respectively.

For ACC fans, the Syracuse-Virginia game was the most interesting. We thought Virginia was going to win and the Cavaliers could have - should have, really.

But Virginia, so stout for so long on defense, let Syracuse go on a massive run. Virginia had a 31-27 lead at the 19:49 mark in the second half and it just seemed like another Virginia win was on the way.

Not exactly.

Syracuse outscored Virginia 47-25 in the second half.

To be clear, Virginia, possibly the best defensive team in the country, gave up 47 points in the second half.

With 10:00 to go, UVA still had a 14 point lead at 51-37. From that point forward, Syracuse scored 31 to UVA's 11.

There's really no way to put it - it was a huge choke.

Of course there were reasons for it. It's not like Syracuse came back magically.

The Orange pressed briefly and later coach Jim Boeheim said that turned the tide.

More importantly though Syracuse is getting real effort from everyone. Michael Gbnijie has been reliable and even when Trevor Cooney isn't shooting well (4-11) you always get his best effort.

Lately though the 'Cuse has gotten really good play from Tyler Roberson, Maliki Richardson and Tyler Lyden.

It's made all the difference for Syracuse.

But Syracuse shot just 36.8% so it wasn't just offense. Syracuse really did a number on Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon, limiting him to 2-14.

Virginia still had a great season, but it would've been fun to see them in the Final Four. We already know they can beat UNC and if they could have managed it Saturday, they might have played Buddy Hield and Oklahoma - and we could have seen the best offensive player in the country vs. the best defensive player.

Of course there wouldn't be any guarantees against UNC.

The Tar Heels are playing very, very well right now and Syracuse will not have an easy time.

Notre Dame kept up until Brice Johnson got called for a technical for, basically, being frustrated and sarcastic (he pounded the ball on the floor and then tossed it over his shoulder).

After that, UNC scored 13 straight times and that was the end of that as UNC won 88-74.

So can Syracuse do it?

Well maybe. UNC won up there in January 84-73, and then again in Chapel Hill, 75-70.

Here's some signs that might provide some hope: UNC shot 61.5% against Notre Dame. In Syracuse, the Heels hit 42.9% and took 31 threes against Boeheim's zone (hitting nine for 29%).

In Chapel Hill, UNC shot 41.2% and took 25 threes, hitting 6-25 for 24%.

In Sunday's game, Brice Johnson had 25 points and 12 boards.

In the first game, he had 16 point and eight boards. In Chapel Hill, he managed 14 points and 10 boards.

In the first two games, UNC took an average of 28 threes.

Johnson's output and the heavy three point shooting reflect how difficult Boeheim's 2-3 zone can be. And now, with Richardson, (6-6), Gbinijie (6-7), Lydon (6-8) and Roberson (also 6-8) give Boeheim the kind of long defenders he likes.

Both teams are playing their best. It'll be interesting to see who prevails.

It's nice for the ACC but a bit of a black eye too: Syracuse has already been penalized by the NCAA for academic misconduct and UNC is very likely to be. The teams are there to play basketball, but the corruption in both programs is part of the story too.

The allegations at UNC involve both the 2005 and 2009 championship teams. What the NCAA does is anyone's guess. Cleveland State, consider yourself warned.


Pitt's coaching search ended fairly quickly with the Panthers hiring Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings. It hasn't been a universally popular choice.

Unlike most of the SEC, Vanderbilt's athletic identity is through basketball. Only Kentucky is more passionate about hoops. For the rest, it's just something to do until football season starts - maybe.

Like Stanford and Northwestern, Notre Dame and Duke, not every elite academic school's coach can succeed with academics and basketball.

Stallings did okay at Vandy - he certainly had an identity for his team - but didn't succeed regularly. There was speculation that he was going to be fired.

However, Pitt's AD likes the fact that he plays uptempo and that Stallings knows the ACC recruiting territory. Realistically, his predecessor Jamie Dixon wasn't going to get many guys out of South Carolina or Georgia, much less North Carolina.

But the reactions have been mixed, with Mike DeCourcy calling it "ludicrous."

Pittsburgh columnist Ron Cook isn't overwhelmed but says he'll wait and see.

When Pitt hired Dixon to replace his then-boss, Ben Howland, Howland said he'd be better than he was. That worked out reasonably well for Pitt.

So it's interesting that Howland had nice things to say about this hire: "This was a real coup for Pitt, a steal for them, an absolute no-brainer hire. I’ve known Kevin for 30 years, Pitt basketball is in great hands. He will do a fantastic job. This isn’t a young guy learning on the job, he will know exactly what to do from day one...Vanderbilt was the best defensive team in our league [the SEC], but he is also one of the very best offensive coaches in the country. As someone who loves Pitt basketball as much as I do and as someone who was honored to be a part of that program, I am truly excited about the future of the program."

Small note, unless you're Sheldon Jeter: Jeter started at Vandy before leaving. Stallings for some reason (tampering?) said he could transfer anywhere except Pitt. So Jeter spent a year at at a junior college.

But Jeter's dad says it's no big deal. We'll see soon enough.