Published on March 24, 2016 at 12:26 am Related Stories How Dajuan Coleman can provide an added bonus for SyracuseBlum: Syracuse playing rest of NCAA Tournament on borrowed timeWhy Tyler Roberson can be a consistently dominant rebounder for SyracuseSyracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about GonzagaSyracuse basketball roundtable: How to handle Gonzaga’s threats and how SU can improve No. 10 seed Syracuse (21-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) takes on No. 11 seed Gonzaga (28-7, 15-3 West Coast) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night at 9:40 p.m. in Chicago. The Orange is coming off back-to-back wins over Dayton and Middle Tennessee State this past weekend to keep its season alive.Here’s how beat writers Sam Blum, Jesse Dougherty and Matt Schneidman predict the matchup to unfold.Sam Blum (21-13)Gonzaga 68, Syracuse 65Tried your bestSyracuse’s season will always be remembered for the Sweet 16 run. Or maybe it will be for Boeheim’s suspension. Or maybe even how close the Orange came from beating Gonzaga. This has been an eventful five months for SU. We’ll never forget it. Unfortunately, the ride that was meets its demise when Syracuse can’t beat the red hot Bulldogs. The Windy City will blow the Orange all the way back to campus as a crazy year ends with a loss.Jesse Dougherty (22-12)Syracuse 64, Gonzaga 60Hard to guardAdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt’s arguable that Gonzaga’s defense has been nearly as impressive as the Syracuse zone so far in this Tournament, and both teams will go up against the most diverse offense they’ve seen on Friday. With that, this comes down to the two offenses even if the final score doesn’t indicate a shootout. Wiltjer, Sabonis and the Bulldogs’ cast of slashers gives the zone fits in flashes, but it’s the Orange’s big slashing shooters — Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson — that steal the show and a chance to play for the Final Four in Houston.Matt Schneidman (25-9)Gonzaga 71, Syracuse 64BittersweetThe 2-3 zone has been unsolvable for Dayton and Middle Tennessee State, but unfortunately for the Orange Gonzaga has two players tailor-made to solve it. Six-foot-10 Kyle Wiltjer and 6-foot-11 Damontas Sabonis are two of the best perimeter big men in the country and they will find the cracks and crevices in the zone to exploit the Orange down low, from the free-throw line and at the short corner. This time Syracuse in unable to pull away from a team in the second half to continue its unlikely tear through the Big Dance, and the Bulldogs leave Syracuse with a bittersweet taste in its mouth. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearIt feels like there is nothing stopping the talented, smooth talking Cole, who is now an NXT Triple Crown champion, having already won the tag team championships as well as becoming the first-ever North American champion. As he and The Undisputed Era say, they are always ready to “shock the system.”Just a few days after his big victory, Cole spoke with Sporting News about winning the NXT championship, his rivalry with Johnny Gargano, hopes of being with The Undisputed Era for the rest of his career and what he hopes is next for him as champion.No longer a question…I am the BEST that @WWENXT has to offer…and that is #Undisputed #AdamColeBayBay #UndisputedERA pic.twitter.com/9UGz4MZFhV— Adam Cole (@AdamColePro) June 2, 2019SPORTING NEWS: You debuted with NXT nearly two years ago at TakeOver: Brooklyn. On that night, you held up the NXT championship and now you’ve finally won it. Can you describe that moment and what was going through your mind when you won the title?ADAM COLE: I think a big reason that TakeOver 25 was so special was the journey to get there. It was a situation, for me, where I had done a lot of really cool things in NXT and I’ve had some really hard fought matches with a lot of really talented people. For me, my journey was all over the place. I was in the first-ever War Games match in WWE history. I became the first-ever NXT North American Champion in a six-way ladder match.I had done a lot of cool and interesting things, but of course, in the back of my mind winning the NXT championship was already at the forefront. So, getting to finally do that at such a monumental event for NXT, at TakeOver 25, was really, really cool, very special. I think it’s safe to say that anybody in NXT — that’s their goal, that’s their mindset, that’s what they’re working towards and for me it was no different and getting to finally do it was awesome. SN: You’ve crossed paths with Johnny Gargano going back probably about a decade before either of you joined NXT. What did it mean to beat him for the championship?AC: I’m glad you brought that up because I’m not sure if everybody knows, but like you said, me and Johnny go back as far as a decade. We’ve competed and wrestled against each other literally all across the globe, all across the United States and he was a guy that always, any time me and him competed against one another, we always brought out the best in each other or people used to always say that.I know I felt that way and I know Johnny feels that way. To get the chance to do it in NXT on such big stages like TakeOver and showing the world what Adam Cole versus Johnny Gargano is all about has been really cool.Again, just considering the fact that the chemistry that myself and Johnny have has only gotten better and has only gotten cooler and getting to show a whole new group of fans again what Adam Cole versus Johnny Gargano is all about. Then when you put something like the NXT championship on the line, you’re on such a big stage like TakeOver, it brings the best out of us even more. He’s definitely a guy I’m going to do a lot of battles with in the future.SN: We’ve seen that chemistry between the two of you in incredible matches between TakeOver: New York in the 2-out-of-3 falls match and now TakeOver 25. Why do you think that chemistry is so natural between the two of you?AC: I think what it comes down to is me and Johnny think very similar when it comes to wrestling. The things that we enjoy are the same, the things that we respect and admire. Bottom line — our views on sports entertainment or professional wrestling is very similar so, when you combine that with two guys who are as passionate as we are about this job, I think in turn you get some cool, exciting wrestling matches. SN: After the match, you celebrated in the ring with the other members of Undisputed Era with Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong. All of you are close, personal friends and have been on this journey together. What did it mean to have them there to share this moment?AC: It’s so hard to even describe. Lots of times, when you have that sort of pressure on you where you just got done having a grueling matchup, and in that case, me and Johnny wrestled for over 30 minutes, sometimes you can get lost in moments like that. But when I’m in there with guys like Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong, I made sure that I did.Those three guys are about as close of friends as I can get in this line of work and even outside of wrestling. Like I said before, I’ve been in Kyle O’Reilly’s wedding. I’ve been close friends with these guys for years and years. We talk, literally, every day. So, to get to share that moment with those guys was awesome. It was surreal.I know, for sure, there was a moment where I’m looking at Kyle and Kyle’s hugging me and telling me how proud he is of me and all I can think about is when we met in 2009 and we wrestled each other in the infamous ECW Arena in front of like 200 people. Fast forward to this journey of me now becoming the NXT champion and being in there with those guys, it was awesome. It made the moment even sweeter for me, getting to have those guys come down to the ring with me and celebrate.SN: People have talked about The New Day breaking up at some point and those guys don’t want to break up. Maybe that’s a situation you can look at and think that it’s not like the past where groups split and it is possible you can stay together.AC: Sure. And going off that, I think a group like The New Day or with a group like The Undisputed Era, again, seeing what we’ve been able to accomplish in the time that we have, I do think, of course, if you put Roderick Strong by himself or if you put Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly as a team by themselves or me by myself, I think there could be success there.But then I look at what we’ve done as a group and how much fun that we’re having and the fans can tell how much fun we’re having. People really seem to gravitate towards a group of guys who have the same mindset, same attitude, are passionate about this job. People love groups and they certainly have loved and attached themselves to The Undisputed Era. If it’s up to us, we’re not going anywhere.SN: One other thing about the match on Saturday — was there a moment early on where you chuckled knowing that you are this dastard heel, Johnny is in many ways the ultimate good guy and yet the crowd seemed to be more behind you?AC: Sure. The very interesting thing about his process, at least with the NXT fans, is I do believe we have some of the most hardcore, passionate fans in the entire world. There’s a certain level of respect there for all of the competitors. One of the things I was really looking forward to, and I felt like we accomplished this in a similar feat in this rematch, was even if you go back and you watch (TakeOver) New York, there were a lot of strong supporters for me and some strong supporters for Johnny, but it was more 50-50. Some even say it was 60-40. But by the end of that match, everybody was wanting Johnny Gargano to win.For me, in a sense, I look around and see how passionate not only the NXT fans are, but The Undisputed Era or Adam Cole fans are. But I knew as this match went on that they were going to get totally engrossed, totally lost in it and would have been perfectly happy with Johnny Gargano retaining the championship. Again, it’s one of those deals where our fans are so passionate, they love the competitors, they love the performers and I appreciate the support. SN: When you first joined NXT, there were a lot of people that thought it wasn’t if, but when you would become the NXT champion. Why do you think now is the right time in your career to win the championship?AC: I think it’s been me proving a statement. When I first came in to NXT, the focus was on the fact that I’ve formed and started this group called The Undisputed Era. About halfway along that journey, Roderick Strong joined the picture. I think now, more than ever, I’ve proven my worth to NXT. I’ve proven what I’m capable of. I’ve proven that I can be a main event guy in any city across the country for NXT and I think I’ve proven that it was my time to become the champion.I think, actually, going off what you were saying, I think it’s a big reason so many supporters were out for me in Connecticut to become the NXT champion because those fans feel like it’s been my time coming.Like you said, It was only a matter of time before I became the champion and they felt like TakeOver 25 was that moment. I agree with them. I feel like the moment was perfect. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m happy that I won the NXT championship when I did and I’m ready to make this run as special and as memorable as I possibly can.SN: You were already a polished performer when you came into NXT, but what are the biggest differences for you as a talent since joining the brand?AC: I’ll tell you, getting to learn and pick the brain of guys like Shawn Michaels and Triple H and just learn how they think and how they process wrestling has been totally invaluable. Like you said, at that point, I had traveled the globe for a decade honing my craft and learning based on experience and picking the brains of other people. But then coming into this system and getting to learn from two of the all-time greats has been just awesome.Again, kind of my mindset, my mentality, the way I approach things, these are guys that have been wrestling in main events on television for years and years at such a high level. Obviously, you have no choice, but to pick certain things up or learn certain things that you didn’t know before you got here and that’s been so helpful. Without question, Shawn Michaels and Triple H have been two very influential people in this current Adam Cole that you see. This is a threat…it’s a promise…and it most certainly is #UndisputedA post shared by adamcolepro (@adamcolepro) on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:16pm PSTSN: Speaking of Triple H, he spoke with the media after the show on Saturday night and when talking about you, he said you are an all-around talent, being a leader with the brand, and that he was anxious to see where the brand heads under your leadership as opposed to you simply having the title. Have you thought about what you would like to do going forward in this role as a leader but also as champion?AC: The biggest thing for me is I see what NXT is and, more importantly, I see what NXT is capable of. I’ll put it to you this way: I’ve had so many scenarios and so many cases where people who haven’t watched wrestling for a long time will finally get the chance to go ‘OK, I’m going to watch it again, I’m going to check this out.’ They’ll watch NXT and go ‘Oh my god, this is different. Wow, this is incredible. Wow, I’m blown away.’ They end up loving and enjoying the show. I feel like NXT is capable of doing that anywhere across the world, anywhere all over the globe.For me, I want this brand to continue to grow and explore new avenues and get to a point where, without question, it’s ‘Raw,’ ‘SmackDown’ and NXT. It’s respected and viewed as a third brand and more and more people all over the world get to check out NXT because again, I strongly feel this way. I feel that anyone who watches NXT for the first time becomes a fan. It’s something that they want to see again. It’s something they’re interested in. So, I want to take NXT — and I know a lot of guys feel this way — to new heights, to have it continue to grow, to continue to reach new avenues, to continue to reach new audiences and grow as the brand deserves. SN: Would you like to defend the championship in different places like EVOLVE shows or at WWE events?AC: Absolutely. Without question. The NXT championship is a world championship and part of that process is going all over the country, all over the world and defending it in as many different places as you can. I worked really hard to finally get this championship, so I’m ready to be a fighting champion as well and that’s certainly something I’d be more than willing and more than capable of doing. SN: Fans talk about how special NXT is as a brand, but it’s different from your perspective and being able to experience it as a talent working there. There are so many others superstars who love the brand. Can you explain why NXT is such a special place from your point of view?AC: What I think is going on is, again, now in an age where the nuances of professional wrestling are so respected and viewed at in such a positive light, I think NXT fans are some of the most hardcore and die-hard fans and these people who tune in love it. They’ve followed so many guys’ careers even before they made it to WWE or before they made it to NXT and they’ve seen so many of our journeys to getting to this point.The relationship I feel between the NXT superstars and the NXT fans is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before. These fans want us to succeed. They want the shows to be exciting. They want the shows to be awesome, so in turn, they go and have an incredible time and then our job as the NXT superstars is to give them the absolute best show that we possibly can. I think the biggest thing, without question, is the relationship between the wrestler and the fan and that’s why these shows come across as being so special and so memorable. SN: I know Kevin Owens is a good friend and a mentor to you. Can you share anything he has said after you won the championship and what he has meant to you, especially during your time in NXT? AC: Kevin was there front row when I made my debut in Brooklyn. Kevin has also been there to congratulate me when I won the NXT North American Championship for the first time. He’s been one of those guys who has always been in my corner and always been supportive. He sent me a very nice text message after I won the NXT championship, talking about how he wished he could have been there and how proud he was of me. That’s stuff that you never forget. He’s been a supporter of mine even before I made it to NXT. It’s been cool. He’s been incredibly supportive. SN: WWE has the Super ShowDown event coming up on Friday and there’s a 50-man battle royal. Any chance you could be a part of that?AC: I don’t know. That’s one of those deals where I guess you just have to stay tuned. We do have a slogan that is called ‘shock the system.’ I’ll leave you with that. You never know. Keep your eyes peeled. View this post on Instagram It was back on Aug. 19, 2017, at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III when Adam Cole made his surprising debut with the brand, emerging from the crowd and attacking new champion Drew McIntyre with help from his friends Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly.Since then, it has felt like he was destined to become the NXT champion.That time came at TakeOver 25 last Saturday, when Cole defeated Johnny Gargano in a thrilling contest, ending with him holding the gold and celebrating with the other members of The Undisputed Era.