Representing the # 1 and # 10 seeds of the Mid West bracket, the 26 -7 Virginia Cavaliers will take on the 19-13 Syracuse Orangemen on Sunday night in the Elite Eight. Virginia advances thanks to an easy 84-71 victory over Iowa State. Virginia led by 15 at halftime and never looked back. If they can beat Syracuse on Sunday, they would advance to their first Final Four since 1984. Syracuse moves on after a thrilling 63-60 victory over the favored Gonzaga Bulldogs. Syracuse was down 9 points late in the second half but made a furious comeback and took the lead for good with 22 seconds left.
Virginia had 4 players score in double figures against Iowa State but it was senior forward Anthony Gill led the way with 21 points. He also contributed 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and a block. Michael Tobey is a 7-foot senior center that came off the bench and in 20 minutes he scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Defensively, they had no answer for Georges Niang who scored 30 points and as a team they allowed Iowa State to shoot 52 percent from the field. They won the rebounding battle 33 to 24 and only committed 8 turnovers while forcing 12. If there was a negative it was that they shot 66 percent from the foul line making 16 of their 24 attempts.
Michael Gbinije scored almost a 3rd of Syracuse’s points scoring 20 of the teams 63. He did a little bit of everything filling the stat sheet with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Trevor Cooney contributed with 15 points and Malachi Richardson chipped in with 10. Syracuse committed only 12 fouls all game, which resulted in Gonzaga only taking 5 free throws. Syracuse on the other hand went to the line 16 times making 14 of them. Syracuse also did a good job of protecting the ball as they committed just 9 turnovers while forcing Gonzaga into 17. Defensively, they allowed Gonzaga to shoot 43.6 percent from the field but only 38 percent from behind the arc as Gonzaga made 8 of their 21 threes. If there was a negative it was their shooting percentage, which was 36 percent for the game including just 33 percent from three-point range.
Virginia has been favored in all 3 of their tournament games so far and has gone 3-0 against the spread. Syracuse has been the favorite twice and the underdog once and has also gone 3-0 against the spread so far. Virginia is playing in the Elite Eight for the first time in 21 years while Syracuse is in it’s seventh Elite Eight under Jim Boeheim. Virginia is favored by 9 points and have won their 3 tournament games by an average of 16 points but Syracuse has proved they cannot be overlooked even at a 10th seed.
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