The CuseNation.com staff is counting down the top five moments from Syracuse basketball's 2015-16 season. Here is the pick for the number one moment according to Mike McAllister and Ben Sigel.
McAllister: The Comeback
"In basketball and in sports, you never know what can happen."
The words of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim after an improbable, spectacular, unbelievable and fantastic comeback against Virginia. Trailing by 15 points with 9:30 to go, hope seemed lost. The incredible run for the 2015-16 Orange seemed over. Not only did they face that deficit with that little time remaining, but it was against a team they seemingly could not beat.
Virginia had dominated each previous matchup since Syracuse joined the ACC. This game was playing out similar to those in the past. Then there was the Cavaliers' style. Their stingy defense combined with an efficient and patient offense made comebacks extraordinarily difficult. Then, Virginia was 68-0 when leading by double figures at the half under head coach Tony Bennett.
But this team had different ideas. This team had a different level of determination. A will that seemed unbreakable.
It started with a dominating performance from true freshman Malachi Richardson, where he made ACC defensive player of the year Malcolm Brogdon look pedestrian. It was aided by a full-court press that sped Virginia up and forced them into mistakes.
It ended with Syracuse victorious and headed to the Final Four. It was a comeback Syracuse fans will always remember. One that reminded college basketball fans why the best kind of Madness happens in March. What a ride capped by this tremendous comeback. Arguably the best in Syracuse basketball history.
Sigel: The Comeback
As Mike pointed out, the comeback against top-seeded Virginia was incredible from anyones perspective, unless if you're a Virginia Cavalier.
Syracuse was down 15 points with 9:30 to go with its backs against the wall -- and then Malachi Richardson stepped up. The freshman star made sure the entire country knew his name by the end of the night. He scored 21 second-half points, 23 total, and nearly single handedly brought the Orange back.
Virginia was 68-0 under Tony Bennett when leading by double digits at halftime, which made it all the more special. UVA isn't a team that folds under pressure, they don't let their opponents speed the game up and they never seem to be rattled. The Elite Eight matchup with Syracuse defied all odds, especially when the Orange turned to its full-court press.
On a night in which Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney struggled, Richardson picked up the slack. We all knew Malachi was a great shooter. Richardson's success wasn't surprising - he's a special talent. How he did it and who he did it against, Malcolm Brogdon (ACC Defensive Player of the Year), was.
It was the best Syracuse basketball comeback I had ever seen, and I'm sure it ranks up there for most of you. It capped an incredible season that was full of ups and downs, but isn't that college basketball in a nutshell?