It's the 1996 men's NCAA basketball tournament. Syracuse has just upset Kansas in the Elite 8. The team is live on air in their post-game interview when the players suddenly start singing," 'Cuse is in the house, oh my God, oh my God,." It instantly became one of the most memorable moments in college basketball history.
But how did we get here? And why was it so important? Let's look back at the forever favorite 1996 Syracuse Men's Basketball team.
Going into the season, the team's undisputed star John Wallace decided to return to Syracuse after flirting with the NBA draft. It was an excellent decision for the Orange, as the team won their first eleven games. It wasn't until a tourney in Maui that they lost their first game to the famous UMass Minutemen team led by center Marcus Camby and coached by John Calipari.
Syracuse finished the season strong and was able to nab a #4 seed in the West Regional of the NCAA Tournament. They beat Montana State and Drexel to make it to the Sweet 16. They met Georgia the following weekend, who had just upset the #1 seed, Purdue. Syracuse beat Georgia in overtime, and fans began to wonder if this was a team of destiny.
Next was the Elite 8, where Syracuse played Kansas, a team loaded with stars like Paul Pierce and Jacque Vaughn. Syracuse handed the Jayhawks a massive upset, winning 60-57, sending the Orange to the Final Four, and giving us one of the greatest moments in live television.
The post-game interview was moving along as any interview does. Hyped-up and excited players were living out their dreams and celebrating, with all that energy culminating in the team breaking out into song: "Cuse is in the house, oh my God, oh my God," It was such a catchy phrase and beat that it instantly caught on nationally. It also helped that, at that moment, Al McGuire began awkwardly dancing along with the chant. Something you can never unsee.
But what was that song? And why was it so important?
The catchy beat and lyrics had roots that go deeper than celebrating a victory. East Coast rapper Blahzay Blahzay's track "Danger" was a massive hit on NYC radio at the time, featuring the refrain in the chorus: "When the East is in the House/Oh My God." It was an unexpected hit for the Brooklyn duo DJ/producer PF Cuttin' and rapper Outloud. It symbolized the East Coast's pride during the hip-hop tension between the coasts.
The song and the moment fit so perfectly together that they forever threw "in the house" into not only our basketball vocabulary but our national vocabulary. A cultural moment that would go to be remembered forever.
Syracuse later defeated Mississippi State in the Final Four before running into the Kentucky Wildcats led by Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, Walter McCarty, and Derek Anderson in the National Championship game. The 'Cats themselves were also an iconic team for the history books, later referred to by Kentucky fans as "The Untouchables." Syracuse lost that game 76-67, but the impact was already made. They became not only a favorite Syracuse team for Syracuse fans but also a favorite team for any college basketball fan.
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