Again, Syracuse makes Sweet 16 as double-digit seed

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Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim and Quincy Guerrier hug following a second-round game against West Virginia in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Indianapolis. Syracuse defeated Syracuse 75-72. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

For the third time since 2016, Syracuse is headed to the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed.

In all, nine double-digit seeds have reached the regional semifinals in that time span — so the Orange have accounted for one third of them.

Later on Sunday, 15th-seeded Oral Roberts and 12th-seeded Oregon State joined that list as well.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim once again made it past the first weekend after barely qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The Orange edged third-seeded West Virginia after knocking off San Diego State in the first round.

“It’s hard to make the Sweet 16. Look around. Look at some of the teams that are out,” Boeheim said. “When I started coaching, we thought you’re supposed to do that. I think we went to 14 or 15 Sweet 16s, and some of them I don’t even think we celebrated. … But it’s very hard. There’s so many good teams.”

Oral Roberts followed its big upset of Ohio State with a win over Florida, and Oregon State ousted Oklahoma State.

Here are the six double-digit seeds who made the Sweet 16 from 2016-19:

2016 SYRACUSE (No. 10 seed)

The Orange blew out Dayton, then caught a break when 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee dispatched Michigan State in the first round. That made the path to the Sweet 16 easier, and Syracuse actually made it all the way to the Final Four with wins over Gonzaga and top-seeded Virginia.

2016 GONZAGA (No. 11 seed)

The Bulldogs beat Seton Hall and Utah by a combined 39 points before falling 63-60 to Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Michael Gbinije made a go-ahead layup with 22 seconds left for the Orange in that one.

2017 XAVIER (No. 11 seed)

The Musketeers beat Maryland and Florida State in the first two rounds, then edged second-seeded Arizona 73-71 when Xavier closed the game on a 9-0 run. Xavier’s run ended with an 83-59 loss to Gonzaga in the regional final.

2018 LOYOLA CHICAGO (No. 11 seed)

The Ramblers won their first three games of the tournament by a combined four points, including a 69-68 victory over Nevada in the Sweet 16. Then Loyola beat Kansas State by 16 to reach the Final Four. The run finally ended when Michigan outlasted the Ramblers in the national semifinal.

2018 SYRACUSE (No. 11 seed)

This time, Boeheim’s team had to start in the First Four, but the Orange won there and then went to Detroit, where they flummoxed both Texas Christian and Michigan State. Syracuse lost to Duke 69-65 in the Sweet 16.

2019 OREGON (No. 12 seed)

The Ducks beat Wisconsin and then 13th-seeded UC Irvine to make the Sweet 16. Then they gave eventual champion Virginia a tough battle but fell 53-49.

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