BOSTON — Wisconsin had Syracuse in the crosshairs in a game in which the Badgers were deadly accurate from 3-point range, making 14-of-27 over the Orange's trademark 2-3 zone. At one point in the second half, Wisconsin made six straight 3s to take a 56-53 lead in their region semifinal.
With 19 seconds left, Syracuse led 64-63, but Kris Joseph missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Badgers put the ball in the hands of All-America guard Jordan Taylor, who missed a long 3, and a turnaround fade-away at the buzzer by Josh Gasser was an air ball as the Orange won Thursday night.
Taylor and Gasser fell to the floor in agony while the Orange celebrated wildly.
"I felt like I got my legs into it," Taylor said of the final shot. "I knew it was a deep 3, but it felt good, and then to see it come up short was kind of heartbreaking."
Syracuse (34-2) advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since its 2003 title season.
"I can't tell you how good it feels to win a game like this," coach Jim Boeheim said. "This was a great, great game. (Wisconsin has) terrific ball movement, and they have five guys that can shoot. There aren't that many teams like that."
Taylor and Jared Berggren led Wisconsin (26-10) with 17 points apiece and combined to make 8 of 12 3-pointers. But Syracuse shot 55.1 percent against the Badgers' man-to-man, which led the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average 52.9 points per game. "We got an awful lot of good looks, and we took them," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
C.J. Fair, who entered in a shooting slump, scored 15 on 7 for 9 shooting and had seven rebounds. Fair had totaled six points in the first two NCAA Tournament games.
Scoop Jardine scored 14. Dion Waiters added 13 and Brandon Triche 11.
Wisconsin had no trouble with Syracuse's zone in the early going; the 6-foot-10 Berggren operated effectively inside and out. Berggren scored 10 straight Badgers points, four in the paint and six on 3-pointers, to build a 15-9 lead. Berggren left at 12:03 after committing his second foul, and Syracuse went on a 24-8 run.
Taylor jump-started Wisconsin's offense with two 3s early in the second half, and Rob Wilson's 3-pointer with 15:46 left tied it at 40. Then Fair warmed up for the Orange, scoring six in an 8-1 run.
It was clear the Badgers had to match Syracuse on the offensive end, and they turned to their 3-point shooting to do it. Five straight 3-pointers by Berggren, Ben Brust, Taylor, Gasser and Brust gave Wisconsin a 56-53 lead. At that point, eight of the Badgers' nine second-half field goals were 3s.
That was similar to the formula Cincinnati used to upset Syracuse in the Big East tournament semifinals. Fair tied it at 56 with a conventional three-point play, but then Taylor hit Wisconsin's sixth straight 3. The spell was broken when Ryan Evans missed a 3 with 6:17 remaining.
ohio state 81, cincinnati 66: Deshaun Thomas scored 26 and Jared Sullinger had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the second-seeded Buckeyes (30-7) past the sixth-seeded Bearcats (25-11).
Aaron Craft added 11 points, all in the second half, with five assists and six steals, taking charge during a 17-1 second-half run that turned a four-point deficit into a double-digit lead.
Cashmere Wright scored 18 and Sean Kilpatrick 15 for the Bearcats, who were attempting to match Big East rival Syracuse by beating a Big Ten opponent to advance.
It's the first trip to the region finals for Ohio State since 2007, when it lost in the national championship game to Florida.