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March Madness 2017: Great games galore on Wednesday

The Wednesday slate of games in men’s college basketball had the opportunity to get wild, and it did not disappoint. There were two game-winning three-pointers in the final seconds. In those games, which took place with one ranked championship contender against a dark horse, we saw the opposite results. One had the underdog winning at home in front of a rabid crowd. The other watched the home underdog blow the lead.

In the former, it was the Syracuse Orange pulling out the victory of the season for their squad. Against No. 10 Duke, Syracuse was able to pull off the win on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by guard John Gillon, who scored a game-high 26 points. Gillon raced the length of the court in the final moments with the score tied at 75 before heaving a prayer, which banked in of the backboard.

It was the kind of win that could spell the difference between March Madness and the NIT for the Orange. At 17-12, Syracuse finds itself firmly on the bubble, and while some of its losses certainly hurt (such as the blowout defeat in the Carrier Dome against St. John’s), beating a hot Blue Devils team is going to go a long way. If the Orange can make a run in the ACC Tournament, they will clinch their bid in the tourney and become a dangerous team. Playing that patented 2-3 zone, Syracuse cane be a real problem for teams that live on the outside shot.

Meanwhile, the same could not be said for the California Golden Bears against the No. 6 Oregon Ducks. California was home and built up a double-digit lead with less than 10 minutes to go in regulation, but could not hold on to the advantage. After losing to Oregon earlier in the year by 23 points, California had reeled off five consecutive wins including a victory over the Utah Utes in double overtime.

However, things have not been going as well recently. The Golden Bears have lost three straight games now, including Wednesday’s defeat at home to Oregon. The contest was tied in the waning seconds when Dillon Brooks pulled up and knocked down a shot from beyond the arc, giving Oregon a 68-65 win.

The result likely does little in terms of knocking California out of the NCAA Tournament field. At 18-9 and 9-6 in the Pac-12, the Golden Bears are likely in regardless. That said, the seeding is getting worse by the minute, especially with this late-season slide. On the other side, Oregon continues to move toward the top line. It might take winning the conference tournament (in fact, it almost definitely will) but that remains a real possibility.

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