So, guess who finally got its act together? Our friends at Sports Illustrated.
Kentucky’s loss is Syracuse’s gain. After the Wildcats upset in South Carolina this week, the Orangeseize the top spot in SI’s weekly power rankings for the first time this season.
Not that we’re looking for the immaterial support within SI’s newsroom. Heavens knows this is a publication that picked North Carolina (13-7, 2-3, 10th in the ACC) and Washington (3-5, 13-7, 8th in the Pac-10) as preseason Top-10 squads.
But a quick look back at the College Hoops Preview Issue shows the publication rated the Orange 35th in the nation, “Heavy losses are partially off-set by hyped Iowa State transfer F Wes Johnson and freshman PG Brandon Triche (a Jonny Flynn type).”
Look, none of us could envision this dizzying fever dream of a season. Top-5 rankings? Number-one seed conversations in January? Thrashings of bitter rivals on national television?
It’s almost too good to be true. But Luke Winn’s reasoning behind vaulting the Orange to the top spot sounds all-too familiar to the rest of us.
“Save for its loss to Pitt, Syracuse has played exceptionally well in games against potential NCAA tournament teams, rather than just scraping out victories. The Orange beat Cal by 22, North Carolina by 16, Cornell (the team that nearly knocked off Kansas) by 15, Memphis (another team that nearly upset KU) by 17, Florida by 12, Georgetown by 17 – and in their marquee road game, held a double-digit lead over West Virginia before giving up a late run and winning by one. The Orange have been the most consistently impressive team on big stages, and that bodes well for their NCAA-title chances.
Syracuse has a slightly better resume of true- and semi-road wins – at tourney-bound West Virginia and Florida (in Tampa), as well as at Seton Hall and Notre Dame. Kansas’ road-win resume only includes one team in SI.com ‘s projected bracket (Temple), and so does Villanova’s (Maryland).”
All solid rationale, but also a resume the rest of us in Orange Nation already knew. SU fans have had to swallow the constant cynicism from national pundits that the ‘Cuse just wasn’t as good as its record indicated.
“Yeah, but let’s see if they can succeed away from the Dome. Yeah, but can the Orange win a true-road game? Yeah, but how about against ranked competition?”
Each and every time Syracuse has risen to the challenge, taken said challenge outside, beaten the living snot out of it and mounted it on the wall for Doug Gottlieb to stare at.
The inevitable DePaul annihilation is next. See ya same time next week, SI?