All-time series: Virginia leads 4-3
Date: Sunday, March 27
Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
Location: United Center (Chicago, Illinois)
As you may recall, the first meeting between the Orange and Cavaliers was postponed due to a snowstorm. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, January 23rd, but was postponed one day to January 24th. Due to the inclement weather, the Orange arrived in Virginia early Sunday, which could very well have affected its play.
In that meeting, Malcolm Brogdon scored 12 of his 21 points in the final 5:45, as UVA went on to win, 63-55. Anthony Gill and London Perrantes each scored 16 points that day, while Gbinije and Richardson had 24 and 23, respectively, for the Orange. Syracuse was outscored 40-12 in the paint during the Sunday afternoon matchup, which was clearly a deciding factor. The poor interior defense was exposed all afternoon, and Jim Boeheim repeatedly went back to that as the main issue in his postgame press conference.
Despite all the travel complications and a hostile environment, Syracuse had a chance to pull of the upset, which was just six days after its victory over then-20th-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor.
Sunday's matchup of two ACC teams will include two elite defenses. SU's 2-3 zone is arguably the number one reason it's still playing, while UVA's man-to-man defense is suffocating, to say the least.
Three things to watch:
1. Containing UVA: Virginia has numerous big-time players: Brogdon, Gill, Perrantes and Mike Tobey. Tobey went off for 18 points during Friday's victory over 4th-seeded Iowa State. The 7-footer will give the Orange fits all game long, which is definietly something to keep an eye on. The senior's 18 points was his season-high. He also grabbed seven rebounds in his 20 minutes of action. Brogdon, Gill and Perrantes can cause the Orange's zone problems as well, but Tobey could emerge as a major issue.
2. Richardson/Lydon: Malachi struggled on Friday, finishing 3-for-14 from the field, 2-of-6 from 3-point range. But aside from those numbers, he still managed 10 important points. One of those 3-pointers came down the stretch to pull the Orange within three with less than five minutes remaining. Lydon, on the other hand, had a solid game, as long as you don't check the box score. His six blocks all proved crucial, and he battled as well as he could inside against a better post player in Sabonis. His two free throws at the end sealed the victory for the Orange, which followed after his game-winning block. Sunday will be different, though. Syracuse needs scoring from both of these freshman. SU can't rely on Frank Howard to score like he did on Friday.
3. Cooney: In SU's first matchup with UVA this season, Cooney went 3-for-13 from 3-point range, and the Orange lost by eight. Syracuse didn't play very well down in Charlottesville, which should give SU fans hope heading into Sunday's matchup. If Cooney can hit shots, the 2-3 zone stays effective and the Orange get the contributions from Lydon and Richardson, with Gbinije's continued success, a Final Four appearance isn't as far-fetched as some may think.