The final day of the Elite Eight was affectionately refereed as "ACC Day," and with good reason. The ACC sent four representatives to the regional finals, and thanks to the luck of the bracket draw they all played each other on Sunday. So we ended up with a bonus ACC Tournament in the middle of the NCAA Tournament.
The day's games didn't disappoint, for the most part. No. 1 Virginia threatened to bore its way to another dominant win, but No. 10 Syracuse staged a stunning comeback to knock off the Cavaliers, continuing a truly astonishing run through the tournament. In the late game, No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Notre Dame put on a good show with lots of buckets and fast-paced play, and while the Irish had a good performance, talent ultimately won out and the Tar Heels pulled away late.
With the Elite Eight in the books and the Final Four now set, let's take a quick look back at Sunday's action.
3 things we learned
1. Virginia forgot how to play basketball. Congratulations Northern Iowa — you no longer have the most high-profile collapse of the tournament. The Cavaliers were in control of Syracuse all night, holding a double-digit lead for most of the game. They led by 13 points at the eight-minute mark, and it looked like the end of the game would be a formality.
Then all hell broke loose. The Orange put on a full-court press and turned up the tempo against the notoriously slow-paced Cavaliers. Virginia had no answer for the new strategies and completely lost control of the game. Eight minutes and a 25-6 run later, Syracuse was cutting down the nets, becoming the first No. 10 seed to reach the Final Four.
The Cavaliers' meltdown was simply stunning for a Tony Bennett-coached team, and they now have a whole summer to chew over this loss. With his two top scorers (Malcolm Brodgdon, Anthony Gill) set to graduate, Bennett will have to do some real reloading if he hopes to get back to the Elite Eight next year.
2. Syracuse is still alive, somehow. Well, credit to Jim Boeheim, whose team was close to missing the NCAA Tournament altogether. Now the Orange going to the Final Four for the second time in four years. The way they got here is truly bizarre and hard to explain in a couple of paragraphs, so go read Rodger Sherman's detailed breakdown of Syracuse's tournament run (with all the twists and turns you'd expect).
3. Notre Dame but up a good fight, but North Carolina is still better. The last time UNC and Notre Dame met was in the ACC Tournament, and the Tar Heels spanked the Irish, 78-47. Notre Dame put up a much better fight in the Elite Eight, keeping the game close throughout and even leading at several points.
However, "putting up a good fight" isn't enough if you hope to beat Roy Williams' team. The Heels ripped off a 12-0 run midway through the second half and kept a comfortable lead down the stretch, advancing to the Final Four for the first time since 2009. As the final No. 1 seed left standing, they'll likely be the favorites to cut down the nets in Houston.
No. 10 Syracuse 68, No. 1 Virginia 62
No. 1 North Carolina 88, No. 6 Notre Dame 74
Final Four schedule for Saturday (all times Eastern)
No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (6:09 p.m., TBS)
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 10 Syracuse (8:49 p.m., TBS)
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