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Even though top-seeded Syracuse defeated No. 16 UNC Asheville on Thursday, their harrowing battle and serious upset scare seriously jeopardized the safety of any bracket that has Syracuse going past the round of 32.
Prior to the start of the NCAA tournament, many fans and analysts wondered what the loss of Fab Melo would mean for the Syracuse Orange.
On Thursday we got our answer, and it was not pretty.
In their 72-65 defeat, UNC Asheville was just three field goals away from a tie and possible victory—the Bulldogs were 21-for-49 from the field and 9-for-23 from beyond the three-point arc.
Asheville was not helped by the human element of the game (officiating) late, nor were they helped by an overzealous effort in trying to board a key missed Syracuse free throw.
Stepping into the lane too soon, Asheville guard J.P. Primm was correctly called for a lane violation which, by rule, allowed Syracuse to shoot again. This time, the Orange made the first of a one-and-one, leading to a made second free throw and momentum swing.
Regardless of how Syracuse ultimately won the game, their near-defeat deserves an honorable mention, and should worry anyone who has the Orange advancing much further in the tournament.