SYRACUSE, NY – Syracuse head men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, has guided the Orange to 33 NCAA Tournament appearances in his 43 seasons as head coach at his alma mater. And it was a victory vs. Old Dominion that propelled Boeheim to his very first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Syracuse, guided by first-year bench boss Jim Boeheim, defeated ODU 67-64 in the ECAC North-South Final at Norfolk Scope on March 5, 1977. That was the first meeting between the two programs. Saturday, they’ll square-off for the first time since 1981 and just the fourth time ever.
“As a competitor, don’t you want to test yourself against somebody that’s known to be really really good?” Old Dominion head men’s basketball coach Jeff Jones asked rhetorically. “Obviously the notoriety is what makes this game something that people notice. You want to be noticed at any point of your season and this is no different. This is an opportunity for our basketball team to be noticed at a national level. We’re not going to need a sell-job to get them excited to play.”
Boeheim owns a career record of 933-and-373 (.714 winning percentage). He ranks second among Division I coaches in wins, trailing only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. He has guided his alma mater to the NCAA title game three times, winning it for the first time in 2003.
“Syracuse has the hype behind it – ACC team, a top 25 team,” ODU senior guard B.J. Stith noted. “There’s not a whole lot of pressure on us to win the game. It allows us to play free. Don’t get me wrong, we’re going to be in the game, though. I highly doubt we will be run out of the gym. The guys’ pride won’t allow that to happen.”
ODU (7-and-3) and 25th ranked Syracuse (7-and-2) each enter Saturday’s game riding five-game winning streaks. Tip-off is set for Noon at the renowned Carrier Dome – a facility in which Syracuse has led the nation in home attendance 14 times since the building opened in 1980.