Easter Sunday is going to be a huge one for ACC basketball fans. North Carolina and Notre Dame play the late game to decide the East Region, but first, Syracuse and Virginia will play for a chance to advance to the Final Four out of the Midwest. The Cavaliers and Orange have taken incredibly different paths to this Elite Eight game. Virginia came in as the No. 1 seed, and rode its dominant pack-line defense and efficient offense to three straight largely drama-free wins. Syracuse, on the other hand, was a controversial inclusion in the tournament, but blew out Dayton and Middle Tennessee State, before winning a thrilled with Gonzaga on Friday night. The Orange caught a break by avoiding Michigan State, but no team can be too thrilled to play against Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone right now.
Game Time: Sunday, March 27, 6:09 p.m. E.T.
TV Channel: TBS
Announcers: Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner/Lewis Johnson
Betting Line: UVA -8.5
Prediction: Syracuse joined the ACC ahead of the 2013-14 season, right when Virginia began this peak run under Tony Bennett. Virginia remains the only ACC program that Syracuse has not defeated as a member of the conference, going 0-3 over the last three regular seasons. Virginia blew out the No. 4 Orange in 2014, to win its first ACC regular season title in 33 years, 75-56. The Orange got off to a hot start in 2015, but eventually succumbed to UVA's defense, losing 59-47. This year's game was actually the closest between the two programs, but UVA outlasted the Orange for a 73-65 win.
You can toss out prior results in the NCAA Tournament, and Syracuse is playing with a lot of confidence, but this will likely be the end of the road for the dramatic Orange run. Syracuse is not a great offensive team, and will struggle to get anything against the Cavs' pack-line defense, the nation's No. 4 defense according to Ken Pomeroy. Virginia doesn't put a ton of points on the board, but they run an extremely efficient offense, and have shown the patience necessary to probe and attack the zone from the middle. Syracuse has a lot of momentum and Orange fans believe the team is due to beat the Hoos, but Virginia should be able to pick up the win and head to its first Final Four of the Bennett era.