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2016 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Recap: No. 10 Syracuse defeats No. 11 Gonzaga

The NCAA Tournament is now a mid-major wasteland.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The 10-seed advanced over the 11-seed in an ugly Sweet 16 matchup, 63-60.

Gonzaga led for over 33 minutes of the game, but could never get comfortable with Syracuse's zone. Gonzaga's defense frustrated Syracuse as well. Both teams shot poorly, with the Orange connecting on just 36% of their shots and the Zags only 44%. Kyle Wiltjer led all scorers with 23 points.

The Zags opened the game with a hot shooting run from behind the arc and would lead by as many as 11 points, starting out like they had in both previous games during the tournament. It looked as if they knew exactly what to do against Syracuse's defense.

But then Michael Gbinije (20 points) and the Orange clawed their way back into it at the free throw line. Despite going scoreless from the field between the 7:03 and 1:14 marks of the first half the Orange found themselves down just a point at the half, 29-28.

The Syracuse zone forced Gonzaga into 10 first half turnovers and 17 in the game.

In the first possession of the second half Trevor Cooney (15 points) scored and Syracuse took their first lead of the game, 30-29. Cooney would go on to be the hero at the end of the half as well. Syracuse rode a 12-0 run across the break.

But these are two defensive minded teams, who while playing well recently, were fringe bubble teams before selection Sunday. So, naturally, this game never really got a flow, and neither team managed to get anything going for long. Syracuse's run went ice cold. With just under ten minutes to play Domantas Sabonis (19 points, 17 rebounds) recorded his 23rd double-double of the season to make it a two possession game.

But the lead simply could not grow, despite what seemed to be a dominant performance from Gonzaga and Sabonis, who scored 15 points in the second half.

With 1:18 to play all Gonzaga had to do was advance the ball against the press. They failed, and a ten second violation gave the ball back to the Orange, who trailed by just one point.

Gbinije would score at the rim a minute later to give Syracuse the one point lead. A pair of Tyler Lydon (4 points) free throws with two seconds to play would seal the deal.

Syracuse, now 22-13 on the season, advances to the Elite Eight and will face No. 1 Virginia on Sunday. Gonzaga's season ends with a 28-8 record.