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By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
Topic - Brandon Triche
Syracuse was teetering on the brink, trailing nemesis Pittsburgh by a point with less than two minutes to play and the home crowd doing its best to rattle the Panthers.
He and the Orange have officially walked away from the Big East — and those heated rivalries — and entered the Atlantic Coast Conference, where Duke will become the new Georgetown on the schedule.
Attacking Syracuse's suffocating zone defense in the first half with 3-pointers, crisp passing and a fearless attitude, the Wolverines advanced to the national championship game with a 61-56 victory over the Orange in the Final Four on Saturday night.
Michigan brushes off any comparisons to the Fab Five.
Syracuse is brimming with confidence, largely because of its suffocating style when the other team has the ball.
A high-intensity, player-driven practice on the day clocks sprang forward recharged the Orange after a Big East slide and helped the East Region champions earn a trip to Atlanta.
The Orange's lockdown zone defense carried them to their first Final Four since 2003 and the fifth in their history. Syracuse will play the South region winner, either Michigan or Florida, in a national semifinal next Saturday in Atlanta.
Before the Orange bolt for the ACC and a more modest version of the Big East is reborn next year without them, fourth-seeded Syracuse will play one more conference game. Come Saturday, it will face third-seeded Marquette in the East Region final at Verizon Center — a Big East floor, naturally.
The Orange held top-seeded Georgetown (25-6) to 22 percent shooting from 3-point range with their trademark 2-3 zone and got a big game from their bench to avenge two previous losses to the Hoyas this season.
Porter's incredible play stopped the Orange's 38-game winning streak in the Carrier Dome, the longest in Division I, and it came in front of a disappointed record crowd of 35,012, the largest ever to see a college basketball on campus. It was the fewest points scored by Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
The Cardinals' focus now is on reclaiming the top spot and holding on when it matters — through the season's end in April — after falling to No. 6 Syracuse 70-68 on Saturday.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta sized up his team in the middle of the season and had it figured for an early loss when the NCAA tournament came around.
The sighs were audible from the Syracuse fans. So were the complaints from those rooting for North Carolina-Asheville.
Dion Waiters stared over at George Washington's Dan Guest as the Colonials tried to get a feel for facing Syracuse's stalwart zone defense.
George Washington is Syracuse's latest victim, getting overpowered by the Orange's zone defense and failing to take care of the basketball.
"I was just trying to make a play for the team," he said. "I probably should have made a better decision, probably should have pulled up for the jump shot. ... I did see him, but I figured, I was already in the air jumping."
"It's going to take them a while to adjust to the zone," said junior guard Brandon Triche, who, like the rest of his teammates, was brimming with confidence that defense is going to carry Syracuse to Monday night's title game against either Louisville or Wichita State.