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Final Four or Bust: 30-1, Undefeated at the Dome, Another Impressive Victory

Is anything less than a trip to New Orleans a failure for SU?

Now the real fun begins. The first 30-win regular season in school history was amazing. A Big East record 17 conference wins is impressive. The only other SU team with a perfect home record was the Title Kids of ’03. But none of these stunning numbers will mean a thing if SU is not 30,000 feet above the ground on its way down to the Big Easy in a few weeks.

The way this team manhandled Louisville 58-49 in front of nearly 34k inside the Dome was the perfect culmination of a dominant regular season. But it also underscored how good the Orange is, and that anything less than a Final Four berth would be a failure. The phrase is definitely overused, but in a year where Syracuse and Kentucky are clearly superior programs, it’s how this team will be defined.

First up is the Big East tournament. Ultimately it means nothing. As lomg as SU does enough to secure a 1-seed in the Boston region, getting knocked out of the BET next week would not be the worst thing. While UConn and Kemba Walker used MSG to springboard to a title last year, New York can brutalize a team before March Madness. Kris Joseph spoke to The Fizz about the big picture.

“The Big East tournament is definitely important to use. We want to definitely bring that back to Syracuse, but at the end of the day, March is the big dance. That is what we are preparing for.”

This SU team has an incredible focus all season. The Orange never let the Bernie Fine scandal in November knock it off course. The academic ineligibility of their Brazilian shot-blocking machine didn’t send SU spiraling. Scoop Jardine and K-Jo wouldn’t even let the Senior Day festivities overwhelm their tournament mindsets. “Nothing much,” Joseph answered when asked about what was going through his mind when he left the Carrier Dome floor for the last time. “The thought of it being my last game in the Dome never crossed my mind.”

It’s because this team simply didn’t care about the distractions or hype. SU knows it is poised for a deep NCAA tournament run, and that will trump everything. This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. Scoop echoed that sentiment to The Fizz.

“We got the win. I’d rather go out like I did today, having 0 points in a big win, against a Louisville team that we hardly beat throughout my years, instead of having 30 points in a loss.”

It’s difficult to find many teams that matchup well against the Orange. Anything can happen, but besides Kentucky it looks like SU is in a league of its own. Who can match the senior leadership? What opponent match the depth? Who can keep up with the up-tempo style of play?

The most reassuring factor for Syracuse is the ability to win tight games down the stretch. SU never looks uncomfortable or panicked. Against a top 20 Cardinals team that has had SU’s number in the Pitino Era, Syracuse swiflty backhanded another inferior opponent. This year is the time for Syracuse to get Jim Boeheim’s 4th Final Four, and it couldn’t be in any better shape to do so.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

12 Comments on this Post

  1. Completely agree. This team has been so totally dominant all year long it would be hard to imagine this team not cutting down the nets in April. Last year it was understandable because, even though we had a pretty good team last year, we were too inconsistent to expect a deep run (remember the 4 game losing streak & 2-6 stretch we had?). Even 2 years ago it was understandable to exit early once we lost Onuaku we were done for (to this day I still believe we had no business losing to Butler even if they did become national champ runner ups). But this year, barring any injury or other weird circumstance, this team should be poised for a championship run. Let’s get the sweep: Big East regular season title, Big East Tournament Championship, and National Championship! What a great season that would be!

  2. WAKE UP Kevin:
    You write: “but in a year where Syracuse and Kentucky are clearly superior programs,…”

    You do watch college basketball and not just look at final scores,correct?

    IF YOU DID and understood what you were watching, YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER..

    UNC is better than both Kentucky and Syracuse…

    WHAT IF THEY ARE THE #2 SEED

  3. kevin(other Kevin)

    I am more worried about uk then unc. You forget that a unc team with many of the same players got thoroughly dominated by SU 2 years back, also that unc plays in a league of cupcakes and still stuggled but yet a win against a higley overrated duke team, that when they arent making threes are downright awful which is shown by losses to low level teams like miami and temple, if you actually watched that game, it was more of duke playing horrible then unc playing great basketball. If it came down to the final four (assuming uk is top overall and unc is the last number 1 seed which looks likely at this point) and SU, uk, and unc were all the final four teams, I would so be routing for unc to beat uk, theyre style plays right into SU’s hands they like to run and push the tempo, a style su flourishes in. Unc may be a good offensive rebounding team but really dont see that as a big problem because any team that even slightly pressured them on deffense and stood in and took charges, the start playing erratic and turn the ball over. If you looked at unc’s overall body of work and not just overreact to the final score of one game, you would defn not think that unc is better then both (or even close) If unc played in a better league they would have a lot more losses by now. I also think SU would have a good shot at uk, if you watched the vandy game where an athletic zone was played against them they really struggled, and vandy barely ever plays zone. SU’s zone is head over heels better then vandy’s and more athletic.

  4. First Kev:
    Biggest KEY: No injuries! Same team, same mindset, same attitude heading into postseason play. Last season they couldnt get over the hump, couldnt finish games against good teams. How many times last year did they flounder toward the end of games in BE play? G-Town, Nova, Marq (x2!). Winnable games, and this year the have won all those winnable contests.

    August:
    I think you might have just watched UNC’s victory over Duke instead of THEIR whole season. No question UNC is on a tear, as hot as SU/Kentucky right now. No doubt about it. But that lose to Noles scares the heck out of me. An incredibly overrated Florida St squad, who’s to say Tar Heels don’t put up another stinker like they did a couple months ago in tourney? Calipari’s bunch has ripped thru opponents, and you can’t–not this year–say the ACC/SEC are world’s apart. Competitively, they’re almost identical. Yes, UNC probably has almost the same amount of depth on its team as SU, but if they don’t destroy Duke this weekend, and let’s say they even just barely edge out Dukies, perception changed. I want to see how they play this weekend; no chokes (cough cough 1st Duke meeting cough). Their lethal right now, but SU/Kent still sit in tier above them.

    2nd Kev:
    Agreed. I don’t think UNC has been challenged to the level that SU been in BE, despite conference’s “down” year. Not sure if I can just hand SU the matchup victory over UK just yet. Davis is an absolute workhorse, and can rip thru paint with ease. Got to bring in the BCS on this one: just give us an SU/UK championship. Most enticing matchup in my book.

  5. Fitzy-
    Sorry man you are DEAD WRONG. I missed the UNC/Duke game but I did see them get blown out by FLA St and watched them 6/7 other times this year.
    THE REASON THEY ARE THEY BEST TEAM:
    BARNES/HENSON/ZELLER/MARSHALL/BULLOCK AND MCADOO… WHY they were the number #1 team in nation pre-season, man.
    COME ON MAN.Please tell me you are know hoop better than pointing to FLA St LOSS in February as why they are not in UK/SYR tier.
    REPEAT AFTER ME: BARNES/HENSON/ZELLER
    BEST FRONTCOURT IN COLLEGE BY FAR..
    PS- I HATE UNC!

  6. Jesse H

    Is that Florida Steve popping off on Fizz? I get nervous when I see spontaneous CAPS TO PROVE A POINT as well as grammatical errors. Dear god this could be worse than that Asian Carp deal.

  7. Jesse: YOU MAKE A GOOD POINT–oops, wait, that was supposed to be lowercase?

    August: Can say the same for SU: K-Jo/Dion/Fair/Melo/Triche/Scoop. Lineup is just as deadly. And honestly, I’m a little more worried about Kent frontcourt. So have to disagree with you on that one.

  8. fitzy & jesse-
    is this better? my 6th grade english teacher is proofing this for me so that you will focus on more than grammer and spelling.
    it is “high” time for you to take off your orange colored glasses and get real.
    you worried more about kent frontcourt because that is what someone told u? seems that you are regurgitating same crap heard on tv? Why is kentucky froncourt better?

    oops, sorry to out your weak analysis. how bout something from u and not espn?
    maybe u and jesse an get together for 1 original thought?
    sorry, jess(ica) in advance to any typos or gramatical errors. r u available to take the SAT for me?

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