North Carolina & Syracuse Win to Complete Final Four Field
In a day of regional finals between Atlantic Coast Conference teams, North Carolina and Syracuse each won to advance to the 2016 NCAA Final Four in Houston. Here’s a recap of the action:
East Region Final
(1) North Carolina 88, (6) Notre Dame 74
Brice Johnson scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and top-seeded North Carolina beat sixth-seeded Notre Dame, 88-74, in the East Region final of the 2016 NCAA Tournament in Philadelphia on Sunday night. With the victory, the Tar Heels (32-6) advanced to their NCAA-record 19th Final Four and first since 2009.
With North Carolina up 51-40 in the second half, the Fighting Irish (24-12) staged a furious 12-0 rally to surge ahead 52-51 with 13 minutes left to play. The Tar Heels answered with a 12-0 run of their own, then held off Notre Dame down the stretch.
Demetrius Jackson had a game-high 26 points for the Fighting Irish, who haven’t been to the Final Four since 1978. Notre Dame forward V.J. Beachem added 18 points.
Marcus Paige added 13 points for North Carolina, who will face Midwest Region champ Syracuse next Saturday in Houston. Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams will be coaching in his eighth national semifinals.
Saturday’s regional winners, Oklahoma and Villanova, will face off in the other Final Four game next Saturday.
Midwest Region Final
(10) Syracuse 68, (1) Virginia 62
Malachi Richardson scored 23 points, including 21 during an incredible second-half rally, and 10th-seeded Syracuse shocked top-seeded Virginia, 68-62, in the Midwest Region final of the 2016 NCAA Tournament in Chicago on Sunday. With the stunning comeback victory, the Orange (23-13) qualified for their first Final Four since 2013, and sixth in team history.
Up 54-39 with 9:33 to play, the Cavaliers (29-8) seemed to have the game won, but Syracuse roared back with a decisive 25-4 run, including a 15-0 spurt, to take a 64-58 lead. Richardson scored the layup that put the Orange ahead for good, 59-58, with 5:51 to play. He tallied 14 points during the run.
Syracuse converted several free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory.
Virginia led 35-21 at halftime, but the Orange extended their zone defense into a full court press in the second half and clamped down on the Cavaliers offense. London Perrantes scored 18 points — all on three-point shots — for Virginia, which was looking to make their first Final Four trip since 1984.
Tyler Lydon and Michael Gbinije added 11 points each for Syracuse, who will face North Carolina in the Final Four in Houston next Saturday. The Orange are only the fourth double-digit seed to make the Final Four (Virginia Commonwealth in 2011, George Mason in 2006 and LSU in 1986).