Carmelo, 'Cuse hook Horns

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Vitale: Remembering Jimmy V's title

Vitale: Saluting Boeheim and Williams

Vitale: Final Four All-Star team

Vitale: New Orleans scene

Vitale: New Orleans notebook

Vitale: Finally, we're down to four

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 Orange Crush
Dick and Digger recap Syracuse's win over Texas.
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 The Charm
Jim Boeheim and Rick Barnes react to Syracuse's victory.
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Syracuse tops Texas, Boeheim eyes title


Wow, what a performance by diaper dandy Carmelo Anthony! I've said for awhile that he doesn't play like a freshman, and he proved it again on the biggest stage at the Final Four in New Orleans. Thanks to Anthony, coach Jim Boeheim has his third chance at that elusive national championship.

Jim Boeheim
He scored a career-high 33 points, shooting 12-of-19 from the floor, and grabbed 14 rebounds. What made Anthony's sensational game even more incredible was that he picked up his third foul just before halftime, but it didn't matter (he didn't pick up a single foul in the second half).

To me, Anthony's performance Saturday was the best I've seen by a freshman at the Final Four in my 24 years at ESPN -- even better than Pervis Ellison, who led Louisville to the national title as a freshman in 1986.

Let me go even further: I believe Anthony is the best freshman ever to play at Syracuse -- better than Pearl Washington, Billy Owens and Derrick Coleman -- and the best freshman ever in the Big East. Yes, better than Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Allen Iverson, who were all terrific as freshman in the Big East.

Anthony's fellow diaper dandy, guard Gerry McNamara, also hit some big shots against Texas, scoring 19 points and adding four steals and four assists. Syracuse never let Texas get into a rhythm defensively.

Sophomore forward Hakim Warrick, the nation's most improved player, set the tone early in the game, using great footwork and shooting the ball with confidence (18 points, seven boards).

Texas point guard T.J. Ford was the maestro man again, dishing out 13 assists and scoring 12 points, but on this night it wasn't enough for the Longhorns. Junior guard Brandon Mouton had a scintillating first half (20 points) but was held in check in the second half (25 overall). Syracuse's 2-3 zone wasn't as dominant as it was vs. Oklahoma, but it was good enough to get the Orangemen to the title game.

Now the final is set, baby, pitting two of the best coaches in the business, Jim Boeheim and Roy Williams. They have seven Final Fours and more than 1,000 wins between them. The college basketball world will be watching to see who cuts down the nets Monday night in New Orleans. Both deserve it, but only one will bring home that gold trophy, baby!

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