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Syracuse’s Frank Howard suspended indefinitely

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Syracuse will have to play the 2019 NCAA tournament without senior guard Frank Howard as the school announced that he’s been suspended indefinitely.

“Syracuse University men’s basketball student-athlete Frank Howard will not play in the NCAA Tournament for an indefinite period of time due to a violation of athletic department policy,” the release said.

The 6-foot-5 Howard has been a key piece for the Orange the past few seasons as he’s putting up 8.9 points, 2.9 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game this season. Howard’s size also makes him effective in the Orange’s trademark 2-3 zone.

No. 8 seed Syracuse opens the NCAA tournament with a matchup against No. 9 seed Baylor on Thursday night as they play in Salt Lake City in a game that will tip at 9:57 p.m. EST.

NCAA Tournament 2019: Instant Analysis West Region

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The West Region has an intriguing draw with Gonzaga gaining the top seed and Michigan, a Final Four team from last season, getting the No. 2 seed. This region has some potential darkhorse Final Four team and some trendy potential upsets to keep an eye on during the first weekend.

The No. 1 seed is Gonzaga. Despite a loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC title game, the Bulldogs still earned a No. 1 seed out west as they face the play-in winner between No. 16 seeds Fairleigh Dickinson and Prairie View A&M.

It should be a matchup of a lot of length and athleticism when No. 8 seed Syracuse and No. 9 seed Baylor collide. The health of Orange star guard Tyus Battle (hip) and Bears senior guard Makai Mason (toe) could very well decide who advances in that one.

The best lead-guard matchup of the first round goes down in Hartford with No. 5 seed Marquette and All-American Markus Howard battling OVC champion and No. 12 seed Murray State and Ja Morant. The Golden Eagles struggled down the stretch in Big East play as they went from Final Four darkhorse into a potentially-popular first-round matchup.

ANALYSIS: East | South | West | Midwest

A dangerous No. 4 seed could be Florida State as the Seminoles just knocked off Virginia in the ACC tournament over the weekend. Coming off of an Elite Eight appearance last season, the Seminoles could be a sleeper Final Four team out of this region. The Seminoles collide with No. 13 seed Vermont, a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The America East champions had a beatdown of UMBC in the conference tournament title game.

After an impressive season in the MAC in which they became a consistent top-25 team, Buffalo gets a No. 6 seed. The Bulls could get a fascinating first-round matchup as they await the winner of the play-in game between No. 11 seeds Arizona State and St. John’s. If the Sun Devils advance past Dayton, it’ll be a matchup of Bobby Hurley-coached programs as he left Buffalo for Arizona State a few years ago.

Texas Tech earned the No. 3 seed out of the Big 12 following an impressive regular-season title. Although the Red Raiders made the Elite Eight last season, the roster is almost entirely different from last season. But the Red Raiders have a star in Jarrett Culver and the nation’s best defense. Northern Kentucky, the No. 14 seed, draws Texas Tech after winning the Horizon League title.

Following a disappointing regular season, Nevada is a No. 7 seed facing No. 10 seed Florida. The Wolf Pack had preseason top-10 hype but failed to deliver results in the regular season behind a loaded roster that is mostly in-tact from last season’s Sweet 16 team. The Gators needed some late wins this season to get in — most notably over LSU in the SEC tournament. Florida is dangerous but extremely inconsistent.

Rounding out the West is No. 2 seed Michigan as the Wolverines attempt to return to the Final Four. Guard Charles Matthews recently returned from injury as Michigan appears to be near full-strength heading into the Big Dance. The Wolverines face No. 15 seed Montana to open things up as the Grizzlies represent the Big Sky.

Williamson has 29 points in return, No. 5 Duke rolls in ACCs

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Zion Williamson made all 13 of his shots, five on high-flying dunks, and scored 29 points in his return to lead No. 5 Duke to an 84-72 victory over Syracuse on Thursday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals.

RJ Barrett added 23 points and six rebounds to help Duke (27-5) set up a semifinal showdown with No. 3 North Carolina. The Tar Heels swept both games from the Blue Devils in the regular season, with Williamson injured in the first minute of the first meeting.

Williamson got off to a rousing start two minutes into the game when he stole a pass and drove the length of the floor before cocking his right hand back and throwing down a highlight-reel dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. He added three more soaring dunks in the first half — including one off an alley-oop pass from Barrett — and finished the first half with 21 points on 9-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds as Duke built a 34-28 lead.

It was Williamson’s first game since his left Nike Paul George shoe broke during a Feb. 20 game against the Tar Heels, causing him to miss nearly six full games with a sprained right knee. Williamson wore modified Nike Kyrie 4’s this time specifically designed to lend extra support to his 6-foot-7, 285-pound frame.

He showed no signs of any lingering knee issue and cracked a smile several times throughout the game.

Frank Howard scored 28 points, and Buddy Boeheim had 15 for Syracuse (20-13).

Despite Williamson’s highlight-reel display, the Orange battled until the end without leading scorer Tyus Battle, who missed his second straight game with a back injury.

Syracuse tied it with 13 minutes remaining on back-to-back 3-pointers from Boeheim.

But Duke wore down Syracuse down the stretch between the inside game of Williamson and the shooting of Barrett, who punctuated the win with a windmill dunk with 1:14 remaining.

Tre Jones added 15 points and eight assists for Duke.

BIG PICTURE

Syracuse: Despite the emotional return of Williamson, Syracuse stayed close with one of the nation’s best teams despite playing without their leading scorer which is good news for Jim Boeheim’s club heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Duke: The Blue Devils are in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Williamson’s return looks likely to help by making the Blue Devils look more like the team that spent a national-best seven weeks at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll.

UP NEXT

Syracuse: Will await word on an NCAA Tournament berth.

Duke: Will face No. 3 North Carolina for a third time in the semifinals. The Tar Heels won the previous two games — 88-72 on the road and 79-70 at home.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle will reportedly miss time in ACC tournament with injury

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Syracuse star Tyus Battle will miss the Orange’s ACC tournament opener against Pitt on Wednesday, according to a report from Mike Waters of Syracuse.com.

Battle suffered a bruised hip during Syracuse’s game at Clemson over the weekend, and according to Waters, an MRI revealed no structural damage. But the junior guard was seen walking gingerly with ice packs on him after the game.

Waters also reports that if Syracuse advances past the Panthers on Wednesday that Battle would be doubtful to play against Duke in the ACC quarterfinals on Thursday.

Putting up a team-leading 17.2 points per game to go along with 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, the Orange’s offense could struggle without their best shot creator. While the Panthers are an ACC afterthought and Syracuse took both games from them during the season series, it’ll be interesting to see how the Orange play without their best player.

Boeheim deemed ‘not reckless’ in fatal crash

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim will not be charged in last month’s fatal highway accident and the case has been closed.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Thursday that Boeheim was “not reckless.” He says that after reviewing the police accident report he decided to exercise his discretion in declining to file charges.

According to the report, Boeheim was driving 66 mph five seconds before impact and about 54 mph at impact. The disabled car on the dark highway was going 67 mph when it skidded out.

The report concluded that speed was not a contributing factor to the accident. There was no evidence that drugs or alcohol played a role.

Boeheim accidentally killed 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez at 11:20 p.m. on Feb. 20 while trying to avoid the disabled car. Jimenez had exited the car and was standing near the guardrail.

Long ball propels No. 2 Virginia over Syracuse 79-53

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter led a long-range assault, combining for 18 3-pointers as No.2 Virginia broke open a tight game in the second half and cruised to a 79-53 victory over Syracuse on Monday night.

Virginia (27-2, 15-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), whose only two losses were to Duke, has won seven straight since losing for the second time to the Blue Devils and leads North Carolina by a half game in the ACC.

Syracuse (19-11, 10-7) was coming off a solid road win at Wake Forest, but the Orange’s vaunted zone defense was torched for eight 3-pointers during a 27-3 spurt. After falling behind by one point, the Cavaliers outscored Syracuse 37-10 over the final 15 minutes and set a record for 3-pointers allowed by the Orange.

Guy finished with 25 points, Hunter had 21, and Jerome 16. They finished a combined 18 of 24 from behind the arc.

Just over a year ago, Hunter scored 15 points and Guy added 14 as then-No. 2 Virginia humbled the Orange 59-44, the fewest points Syracuse has scored in the Carrier Dome. This one was tight until the big barrage.

Virginia’s biggest lead in the first 25 minutes was four points, but after Tyus Battle hit a corner 3 to give Syracuse a one-point lead at 15:05, the Cavaliers defense kicked in as they scored 11 straight points to gain a double-digit advantage and pulled away.

Hunter hit a 3 from the left corner, Mamadi Diakite converted a layup and Jerome hit a long 3 from the top of the key for a 50-43 advantage nearing the midpoint of the period. Guy’s fifth 3 of the game made it 53-43 at 10:26 as Syracuse went scoreless for nearly five minutes and hit only 1 of 10 shots as the lead slipped away.

Guy’s eighth 3, a career high, gave Virginia its 17th from beyond the arc, the most ever against the Orange.

Battle, the Orange’s leading scorer, finished 5 of 19 for 11 points. Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim also had 11 points apiece.

The game marked the third time since early February the Cavaliers played on the road on a Monday night after a Saturday home game, and they won the first two in that scenario — 69-61 at No. 5 North Carolina on Feb. 11 and 64-58 at No. 20 Virginia Tech on Feb. 18.

TIGHT FIRST HALF

Syracuse’s zone forced eight turnovers in the first half — the Cavaliers average 9.2 a game —and the Orange took a 34-32 lead into the break, despite allowing Virginia to hit 8 of 12 3-pointers. Syracuse had the biggest lead of the period, 31-25 with 3:54 left after Buddy Boeheim hit a 3-pointer off a feed from Oshae Brissett at the top of the key. The score was tied four times and Syracuse held a 12-2 edge in the paint and had nine second-chance points to three for the Cavs. Jerome, Hunter and Guy each had 10 points in the half. Virginia committed only three turnovers in the second half.

ADIOS SENIORS

Center Paschal Chukwu and point guard Frank Howard and reserves Ky Feldman and Antonio Barandi were honored on senior night before their last game in the Carrier Dome.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers are purring and their long-range game is a real equalizer as they seek their second straight ACC title.

Syracuse: Although the Orange lost, they have three wins over ranked teams and should be a lock for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers host Louisville on Saturday in their regular-season finale.

Syracuse: The Orange finish the regular season at Clemson on Saturday.