Jim Boeheim Leads Underdog Syracuse To Surprise Sweet 16 Appearance

Jim Boeheim is not the coach to mess with come NCAA Tournament time. 

They dont call him Rubberband Man for nothing. He doesn’t stay down for long and his resilience has fueled his college basketball coaching excellence. While coaches such as Michigan States Tom Izzo get yearly accolades and consideration for No. 1 coach in the country, Boeheims consistent, persistent machine keeps rolling right over the bumps as he remains relevant into his fourth decade of coaching. 

WATCH: No. 11 Syracuse upsets No. 3 Michigan State, 55-53

Check out the highlights as the Syracuse Orange shock the Michigan State Spartans to advance to the Sweet 16.

Boeheim is known to pull a magic trick or two in the NCAA tournament. Just two years ago, he took Syracuse to a surprise trip to the Final Four. And after Sunday’s 55-53 win over No. 3 seed Michigan State in front of a partisan crowd cheering the Spartans on in Detroit, Boeheim has led an unheralded No. 11-seeded Cuse squad —  the 68th and final team chosen for The Big Dance —  to the 11th Sweet 16 of his illustrious career. 

The Orange, one of the worst offensive teams in all of D-1 college hoops, mustered up enough offense and ran their patented 2-3 zone to perfection to win for the third time in five days to secure an improbable Sweet 16 matchup against second-seeded Duke (28-7) on Friday in the Midwest Region semifinals.

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Syracuse beats Michigan State 55-53. The 11th-seeded Orange clinch their 19th Sweet 16 appearance in school history, tying UCLA for the 5th-most in Division I history. It also matches up Mike Krzyzewski (1,099 wins) and Jim Boeheim (926), the two winningest coaches all-time.

 “No one plays zone like we do,” said Oshae Brissett, who scored 15 valuable points for Cuse. “We’re always moving and we challenge every shot so teams never get easy looks against us. That’s why nothing surprises me with our defense.”

Boeheims team was supposed to make an early exit from the tourney, but the old veteran out-coached Michigan States Izzo and left another huge imprint on NCAA tournament play, proving that the legend should never be counted out. 

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Michigan State missed its final 13 shot attempts in the Spartans’ loss to Syracuse. Their 25.8 percent shooting marks their 2nd-worst shooting performance over the last 20 seasons (24.1 pct vs Illinois in 2012).

Not many folks even thought Boeheim would still be coaching Syracuse in 2018. 

Since taking over in the ’76-’77 season, he has sent a slew of ballers to the NBA, most notably Carmelo Anthony, who helped lead Syracuse to its only NCAA title in 2003. In his time at Cuse, Boeheim has also made five Final Fours, won ten Big East regular season championships and five Big East Tournament championships prior to The Orange defecting to the ACC. 

Syracuse has switched conferences, but Boeheim’s Ric Flair drip is aging him like fine wine. 

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We got some fire behind us now.” #Sweet16 https://t.co/piQK4ozPlc

He’s continued to thrive at Syracuse, despite dodging and ducking NCAA investigations, accusations of improper benefits, academic misconduct and being labeled as a coach that is as loose with the reigns as any successful sideline stalker in NCAA history.

Boeheims cat-and-mouse game with the NCAA had been going on for years. On March 6, 2015, the NCAA suspended him for the first nine ACC games of the 201516 season and took away 12 scholarships over a four-year period as a result of a multi-year investigation into the university’s athletic programs. The ruling also constituted the second-most wins ever permanently vacated by one program, behind the 113 wins vacated by Michigan during the Fab Five Era.

It looked as if Boeheims glorious run was coming to an end. But somehow that drama kind of faded away and here he is again, free of scandal and shame, positioning Syracuse for another run at Final Four

Michigan State has lost its last five games against Syracuse. Big couches step up in the big games and as an opposing coach, you never want to look across the sidelines and see a guy who has (unofficially) won over 1,000 games. He and his good friend Coach K  are the only two mens coaches to reach that plateau. 

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Here’s the correct data: Tom Izzo vs rival coaches: 1-11 against Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. 1-7 against Roy Williams and North Carolina 1-5 against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. 3-23 record overall vs these coaches.

The NCAA Tournaments mysticism and fan interest  is driven by Cinderella squads pulling off the impossible. But the actual superstars of the tourney will always be those legendary hoops programs that the average fan is familiar with because of decades of excellence.  Like those matchups between the icons of the game like Boeheim and Izzo. 

And the classic confrontation we will witness in the Elite 8 when two historically elite hoops powers and two Hall of Fame coaches meet again for a chance to advance to the Final Four. 

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