HOUSTON (AP) — Like the three double-digit seeds that made it to the Final Four before them, the Syracuse Orange had to beat a No. 1 seed in the regional final to advance.
Syracuse, the No. 10 seed in the Midwest Regional, still hasn’t needed an overtime victory to keep playing like the 1986 LSU Tigers, 2006 George Mason Patriots and the 2011 VCU Rams did on their way to the Final Four.
Before the Orange try to become the first double-digit seed to get to the championship game Saturday night when they play top seed and ACC-rival North Carolina, a look back at the No. 11 seeds that made it to NCAA Tournament national semifinal games in 1986, 2006 and 2011:
1986: In the first NCAA Tournament with a shot clock and the last without a 3-point line, LSU was an at-large team that got to play its first two games on its home court. (That has also never happened again).
Coach Dale Brown’s team got into the tournament even after losing 11 of 19 games. That was three years before a big center named Shaquille O’Neal got to Baton Rouge. But the SEC Tigers survived two OTs to win their first game and then beat the Nos. 1-3 seeds in the Southeast Regional.
LSU’s Road to the Final Four: beat No. 6 seed Purdue 94-87 in two overtimes; beat No. 3 seed Memphis State 83-81; beat No. 2 seed Georgia Tech 70-64; beat No. 1 seed Kentucky 59-57.
Tigers at Final Four: In Dallas, lost 88-77 to Louisville.
National champ: Louisville, 72-69 over Duke.
Most Outstanding Player of NCAA tourney: Pervis Ellison, Louisville.
2006: For the first time since 1980, there were no No. 1 seeds in the Final Four. But George Mason, the Patriots then in the Colonial Athletic Conference, were among the last four teams standing.
That season also marked LSU’s return to the Final Four for the first time since its double-digit run — and still their last. The Tigers were a No. 4 seed this time.
George Mason was coached by Jim Larranaga, who was with the Patriots from 1997-2011 before going to his current job at Miami.
George Mason’s Road to the Final Four: beat No. 6 seed Michigan State 75-65; beat No. 3 seed North Carolina 65-60; beat No. 7 seed Wichita State 63-55; beat No. 1 seed UConn 86-84 in overtime in Washington D.C. Regional final.
Patriots at Final Four: In Indianapolis, lost 73-58 to Florida.
National champ: Florida, 73-57 over UCLA.
Most Outstanding Player of NCAA tourney: Joakim Noah, Florida.
2011: Virginia Commonwealth had to win an extra game to get to the Final Four in the first NCAA Tournament with 68 teams. The Rams were one of the First Four teams.
It is the only other time since 2006 that there was no No. 1 seed in the Final Four, and it was the last Final Four played in Houston, where the championship will be determined again this season.
Shaka Smart was in the second of his six seasons at VCU for that Final Four run, which included five consecutive wins over major conference teams. Smart just finished his first season at Texas in the Big 12.
VCU’s Road to the Final Four: beat fellow No. 11 seed USC 59-46 in the First Four; beat No. 6 seed Georgetown 74-56; beat No. 3 seed Purdue 94-76; beat No. 10 seed Florida State 72-72 in overtime; beat No. 1 seed Kansas 71-61 in the Southwest Regional.
Rams at Final Four: In Houston, lost 70-62 to Butler.
National champ: UConn, 53-41 over Butler.
Most Outstanding Player of NCAA Tournament: Kemba Walker, UConn.