Both teams had similar results in their second- and third-round games of the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse blew the No. 13 Montana Grizzlies right out of the water and Indiana breezed by the No. 16 James Madison Dukes. In the third round, each team squeaked by its opponent by six points.
Syracuse struggled offensively in a 66-60 win over the No. 12 California Golden Bears. C.J. Fair scored 18 points and James Southerland 14 points, but the points didn't come easy. Syracuse at one point went 12 minutes without a field goal and ended up making only six total field goals in the second half. They attacked the paint relentlessly to varying degrees of success, getting to the line 41 times but missing 15 free-throws.
The Hoosiers needed someone to step up as they just couldn't put away the No. 9 Temple Owls. Their Wooden Award finalist, Victor Oladipo, hit a three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining to help Indiana escape to the Sweet 16 with a 58-52 victory. Sophomore forward Cody Zeller added 15 points and six rebounds but turned the ball over six times in the win. The 58 points scored was the second-lowest total for the Hoosiers this season.
It has been awhile since the two teams have met, and the few times they have Syracuse has usually come out on top. Jim Boeheim is 3-1 against the Hoosiers, but the Hoosiers' one win was a big one. Keith Smart hit a jumper with five seconds remaining as Indiana overcame an eight-point deficit and won the national title in 1987.
As Jeremy Ryan with Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician writes, that 1987 title game is the game that haunts Orange fans nationwide.
1987 remains the demon that needs to be exorcised. The green stains are still on the carpet. I know that Jim Boeheim is 3-1 lifetime vs. Indiana and Bob Knight, and SU has won all three meetings since 1987. But those were in the regular season. Even after 2003, some of us who remember far enough back know that 1987 is the boogeyman under the bed of SU basketball history. It's the one that got away, the Moby to our Dick.
The winner of the game will go on to play either No. 2 Miami or No. 3 Marquette.
Game time, location: 9:45 p.m. ET, Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
TV Coverage: CBS