Fans of the Syracuse Orange cheer on their team before the March 14 game against North Carolina State in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament.

Syracuse was dealt a No. 3 seed and assigned to a South Regional pod in Buffalo in the NCAA Tournament pairings announced Sunday evening.

The Orange (27-5) drew a first-round game against Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan (23-9) at 2:45 p.m. Thursday at First Niagara Center, with the winner facing the survivor of a Buckeye State showdown between sixth-seeded Ohio State (25-9) of the Big Ten and 11th-seeded Dayton (23-10) of the Atlantic 10 at 12:15 p.m. Thursday.

The ’Cuse was long pegged for a spot in Buffalo but uncertainty arose after the Orange lost five of its last seven games following a 25-0 start. Syracuse also appeared here in 2010 but was a No. 1 seed that year.

The other Buffalo-based bracket, part of the East Regional pod, pits No. 2 seed Villanova (28-4) against Horizon League Tournament champion Milwaukee (21-13) in the nightcap Thursday at 9:25 p.m.. The Panthers went 7-9 in conference but ran the table in the tournament and will hit town toting a five-game winning streak.

The Villanova-Milwaukee winner faces either Connecticut (26-8) of the American Athletic Conference or Atlantic 10 Tournament champion Saint Joseph’s (24-9), who meet at 6:55 p.m. Thursday. The Hawks ousted St. Bonaventure Saturday in the A-10 semifinals.


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