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College Hoops Writer: Syracuse Had “One of Toughest Roads” to Houston

Last night I had USA Today’s Scott Gleeson on the show. While some have scoffed at Syracuse’s easy road to Houston, he felt differently.

“When you’re examining how these teams got there, I would argue that they have one of the toughest roads to get there.”

Gleeson told me he feels like not only the opponents, but also the margin of victories underscores how deserving SU is of being here.

“I think you have to consider that they clobbered Dayton,” Gleeson said of Syracuse’s 70-51 opening-round win. “Dayton was a really good team. A lot of people picked Dayton, and Middle Tennessee beat Michigan State. Regardless of how you look at Middle Tennessee as a mid-major, (Syracuse) knocked them out by 25 points. So that’s impressive how they beat those teams right there. And then on top of that, I think Gonzaga was playing like a 3- or a 4-seed. They barely got into the tournament themselves, but (Domantas) Sabonis and (Kyle) Wiltjer are two incredible players. That was not a typical 11-seed, so I don’t think you can examine it that way. And then look, Virginia was a 1-seed. They were fantastic.”

Gleeson compares this SU team with the Cinderella UConn Huskies of Kemba Walker a few years ago.

“Well, I think when you look at the four teams that are going to Houston, I don’t see there being a completely dominant team. As great as North Carolina is, I think they’re beatable. I think (Syracuse has) evolved and blossomed and developed into the team that they were meant to be here in this tournament. A lot of times we see teams peaking going into the dance. Syracuse was not peaking at all. They looked terrible. They barely got in (the tournament). It just kind of goes to show you that the tournament is all about game-to-game momentum and playing with the right fire and drive. That’s the thing that jumps out to me with Syracuse. You can point out all the X’s and O’s all you want, but they have this moxie and this drive that you see in every title team every year. We saw it with UConn when we didn’t expect them to win, and we’re seeing it with Syracuse now.”

Syracuse may usually never want to be in the same category as UConn, but in this case, the Orange would love to be compared to the Huskies.

Posted: Damon Amendolara

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