Syracuse is in the Final Four. That is completely bonkers.

Hit a three-pointer while only wearing one shoe? Sure, of course, why not.

As you've probably heard, the Syracuse men's basketball team punched its ticket to the Final Four with a win over Virginia Sunday night. And there was much rejoicing throughout Upstate New York.

But if you don't follow college basketball, it might not be clear the levels of bonkers this string of Orange tournament victories has been. (Hint: totally, completely, unbelievably bonkers.)

Let us quickly run through some of the ways.

It should be noted that the Syracuse women's basketball team is also headed to the Final Four, for the first time in its history. That's wasn't necessarily expected -- but as a #4 seed, it's not outrageous.

Syracuse wasn't that good this season
The Orange men finished the regular season 19-13. That's OK, but not really good. They had some successes -- winning an early season tournament against some top teams, winning at Duke's fortress of a home court -- but they were inconsistent and lost to some bad teams. Some of that probably was a result of coach Jim Boeheim being suspended for 9 games mid season for NCAA violations by the program. Some of it was probably the result of relying on three freshmen. Some of it was probably a result of really only having seven players to rely on.

Also: Syracuse had lost five of its last six games heading into the tournament.

For some broader perspective: Syracuse is currently 22nd in the Kenpom ratings -- and that's after winning four games in the tournament. Every other team in the Final Four is ranked in the top five. (Kenpom = Ken Pomeroy, king of college basketball's stat nerds.)

Syracuse barely got into the NCAA tournament
Even Jim Boeheim thought SU probably wasn't going to make it in. And a #10 seed for team like Syracuse is an indication it was one of the last few to make it with an at-large selection. The inclusion sent college basketball's pundits into a fit. (Apologies.)

The predictions were all strongly against this happening
Some examples:
+ The Vegas betting line for Syracuse to win its bracket and advance to Final Four: 25-1.
+ The Kenpom forecast gave Syracuse a 0.5 percent chance of making the Final Four.
+ FiveThirtyEight's projection model gave Syracuse a 1 percent chance of making it.
+ Of the many, many brackets filled out as part of ESPN's online bracket game, just 0.4 percent have Syracuse in the Final Four. And over at Yahoo, just 0.2 percent of brackets have the Orange there.

Syracuse caught a few unlikely breaks, and then broke its own pattern
Syracuse's win over Dayton in the first round wasn't really an upset -- that was probably a toss-up. But it caught a break in the second round when it faced #15 seed Middle Tennessee State, which had beaten #2 seed Michigan State, which 22 percent of people in ESPN's bracket game had picked to win the whole tournament. (Though Michigan State maybe wasn't as good it seemed -- its defense wasn't great.) Then it faced #11 seed Gonzaga, a perennially good team that was having a bit of a down year (though maybe not as down at it seemed).

But then Syracuse faced #1 seed Virginia on Sunday. UVa typically handles Syracuse with no problem -- it's beaten SU every time they've faced each other since the Orange joined the ACC three seasons ago. (Virginia has an excellent coach with good players, and it plays in a style that almost always gives Syracuse trouble.) And it looked like Virginia would win again, easily -- it was leading by 14 at the half.

But in the second half? Syracuse freshman Malachi Richardson went nuts, scoring 21 points in the half. And Syracuse's press -- which it doesn't use often -- disrupted Virginia enough to open the way for a comeback.

As a series of one-off games, the NCAA tournament probably isn't a great way to determine the best team(s). But it's wildly entertaining. And Syracuse's totally bonkers run is the latest example.

The Syracuse men faces North Carolina this Saturday at around 9:50 8:50 pm in the Final Four. The game will be on TBS.


I think it was last year (or the year before) that at one point SU was ranked #1 in the country and was undefeated in the first 10 or 15 games. Then lost and lost and lost and didn't even make the tournament. This year they were never ranked in the top 25, and look what has happened! There is such a thing as a team "hitting its stride" and the Orange are doing it baby!!

I named my bracket "March Madness Indeed" inspired by my original thoughts when Syracuse made the tournament. To watch the Elite Eight game with my family (in Syracuse) after Easter was such an awesome night!! Can't wait for Saturday, at this point, anything is possible!!!

Congrats to the Syracuse Men's and Women's Basketball teams! Crazy!!

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