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No Time to Panic: Syracuse Undeniably Championship Contenders Despite First Loss

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Syracuse is undefeated no more. Dressed in throwbacks from 2003, Syracuse fell 62-59 in overtime to Boston College on Feb 19. This tacks on a small“1” in the loss column for the Orange—a column that may become a “2”or even “3.”

Anyone who thinks Syracuse had a shot at going undefeated had very high expectations. With six games left in the regular season, it seemed more likely than it did back in December. Still, looking at how the team has played against Duke, Pitt and NC State, everyone had to know this was coming—maybe just not against a 6-19 team. 

This team has been outstanding thus far. It started 25-0 and did all of that with a freshman point guard, and a shooting guard who is playing in his first full season. A loss to BC is tough, but a loss was going to happen. After all, the Orange barely got by Duke, Pitt, and NC State. 

25-1 is no reason to panic. Here’s why:

It was going to happen. Whenever a team is earning national attention because it is undefeated and No. 1 in the rankings, there’s a lot of pressure. It knows it hasn’t lost a game and it has tough opponents ahead. It’s a little disappointing it happened against a team like BC, but it goes into a road game, at Duke, which is easily one of the toughest places for a visitor to play in the entire country. This loss is a wake-up call. 

Don’t underestimate BC. The record doesn’t show everything. The ACC is a tough conference and even though the record hasn’t shown it, the Eagles have three players who at least keep the Eagles close. Olivier Hanlan, Lonnie Jackson and Ryan Anderson don’t get much attention in the media because BC hasn’t won games. First of all, Hanlan has scored double digits in all but two games this season. He averages 18 points per game. Although Jackson isn’t a huge scorer, he can hit the big three for the Eagles. And Anderson isn’t a shooter, but he’s a good player down low. He averages just under 15 points per game and just over seven rebounds. A duo of Hanlan and Anderson is dangerous, but perhaps the Eagles have just had bad luck this season winning games with talented players.

Still a good team. A loss to a lesser opponent doesn’t mean anything. This team is No. 1 in the rankings for now and it won 25 games in a row with a freshman point guard and first-year starter at the other guard position. The team has gone through a lot since the Duke game, and will make adjustments and be better prepared to play in a tough environment and against a much stronger team against Duke.

Could still be No. 1. The Fizz published a story breaking down the remainder of the season after the Pitt game. Austin Pollack predicted Syracuse would beat BC at home and lose to Duke on the road. Obviously the BC loss at home is a ranking killer for the Orange, but a win against Duke on the road could potentially keep Syracuse atop the rankings. In the end, this could just be a waste game for Syracuse because it could still be on top. 

Losses don’t mean the team is in trouble. Look back to the end of last season when Syracuse lost four of its last five. The Orange lost twice to Georgetown, at Marquette, and against Louisville. Although those were all challenging opponents at the time and Syracuse was thought to be an early exit in the Big East and NCAA tournaments, look what happened. Syracuse nearly won the Big East tournament, and went all the way to the Final Four before falling to Michigan. One loss means nothing. This is not panic time.

Every season has a hiccup. It’s tough to expect a team to go undefeated and it’s tough for a team to actually go undefeated. This is just a small hiccup.

Syracuse looks to regroup on Saturday night when it takes on Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham.

Posted by: Austin Pollack

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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