After a great week when the Orange knocked off two ranked teams en route to a Battle 4 Atlantis Championship, Syracuse finds itself ranked for the first time since the first week of the 2014-15 season. The Orange came in at 14 in this week’s AP Poll and 19 in the Coach’s Poll.
This is a huge jump for the Orange, who did not receive a single top-25 vote the previous two weeks. It is a jump that may come as a surprise to many fans, but doesn’t seem to come as a surprise to the team. Going into the season, there were very few who gave Syracuse a second look as the consensus was that they would finish somewhere in the middle of the ACC.
Now, Syracuse is 6-0 and attracting national attention. Fans are once again excited about basketball on the Hill and the campus has a definite buzz. The tremendous display that the Orange put on in the Bahamas is evidence of what several Syracuse players have been saying from the beginning.
Both Malachi Richardson and Michael Gbinije said that they felt somewhat disrespected by the national media and that this team, in Richardson’s words, was “going to surprise a lot of people.” It is, arguably, this chip on their shoulder that has helped propel the Orange to their 6-0 start.
This is something that the Orange cannot lose, even though they now have the attention of the College Basketball world. Every team needs that little extra something that puts them over the top against a given opponent. Two years ago, that little something was the cold-bloodedness of Tyler Ennis. This year, while they are getting some great performances out of freshmen, namely Tyler Lydon, it just may be that chip on their shoulder that makes this Syracuse team good.
Syracuse cannot get complacent just because they have made huge strides in the past week. In all likelihood, they won’t be the underdog in their upcoming games, but it is possible that they may just need to play like underdogs to get to 8-0.
Neither Wisconsin nor Georgetown is a pushover, despite their slow starts. Syracuse will need to approach those games the same way that they approached the games against the UConn and Texas A&M at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Playing with that extra bit of motivation may just be the thing that makes this year’s Syracuse team one that can compete.