The Dome was deflated yesterday as 33,000 left humbled after Villanova’s beating of Syracuse. The Orange could do nothing wrong in it’s 18-0 start, but with back-to-back losses now seems to be able to do nothing right. Before climbing to the top of the MONY Tower, we should remember two things:
- The Big East is nasty.
- The Orange may not be as good as its ranking.
A college basketball insider told The Fizz last night: “I’m not surprised at all Syracuse lost. Ya know why? They’re not as good as people thought. SU is a very good team. But top 5? No way.”
The red-hot start to the season, combined with a tougher than normal non-conference slate left us all giddy. But this team is still without a go-to scorer like Wes Johnson was last year. In fact, no Orange player ranks in the nation’s top 50 of points per game. Sharpshooter Andy Rautins’ departure also left an outside void, no one on SU ranks in the top 50 in three-point percentage.
The ‘Cuse’s success lies in its defense – the 5th best team in the country in opponent’s FG percentage and the NCAA’s 14th scoring defense coming into yesterday. When ‘Nova was able to hit from the outside and create plenty of offense, the Orange was sunk. Oh yeah, and the Wildcats are good. Jay Wright continues to have success against SU and ‘Nova is unquestionably a threat to go deep in the tourney.
There’s no reason to overreact to a pair of losses (one on the road, one against a top 10 team) in late January. The Big East is a grizzly bear and even elite teams can lose at home (witness Kansas). We shouldn’t fret that Syracuse isn’t any good, just maybe not as good as the ranking led us to believe.