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They are certainly not intimidated by Syracuse.

“If their zone was unbeatable, then they would be 39-0,” Hardaway scoffed. “We’re just going to go out there, play our game, not worry about what they’re going to do, and just play Michigan basketball.”

Syracuse is playing in its first Final Four since the 2003 team won it all. This will mark the end of the Orange’s long tenure in the crumbling Big East (they’re moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season), and the players are keenly aware this might be the best chance to give Boeheim one more national title before he retires.

The 68-year-old coach has no plans to step down just yet, but certainly the bulk of his long, successful career is behind him.

Boeheim concedes that he’s a little surprised to be in position for another championship, especially after Syracuse closed the regular season with four losses in its final five games, including a 22-point blowout at Georgetown. The Orange were seeded first in both 2010 and 2012, but didn’t make it out of the regionals. This season, they advanced to Atlanta as a No. 4 seed.

“I wouldn’t have expected going into the tournament that we were going to be here,” Boeheim said. “This team has come together. Sometimes that happens at tournament time.”

Good timing.

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