Syracuse playing for history

With the regular season Big East Championship safe and sound, and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament almost locked up, what is going to drive the Syracuse Orange to win over the next two weeks? How about a shot at the all-time single season wins record?

That’s right. If Syracuse can bring coach Jim Boeheim his second national title, without losing a game before then, not only will the Orange set a new school record for wins in a season, it will also set the all-time single season wins record.

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When the Orange lost against Notre Dame there was an underlying thought that the loss was for the best, taking some pressure off the team and allowing the players to go about their business, without the looming specter of an undefeated season. Well, allow me to reapply the pressure and outline what is at stake.

First up, the game this Saturday against #17 Louisville. If the Orange win, not only will it be the first 30 game regular season in Syracuse history and complete a perfect season at home (19-0), it will also guarantee the team fewer than four losses on the season for the first time since the 1934-1935 campaign that finished 15-2.

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Let’s move on to the Big East Tournament. Putting aside the clear desire to leave the Big East as champions before joining the ACC next season, the three wins it will take to bring home the crown mean a lot too. The second victory, which would take place in the semi-finals, would give coach Boeheim a new personal and University best, 32 wins.

From there, the real history-making opportunity begins. As it stands the current record is 37 wins shared by five different schools. Memphis won 38 games in 2008, but forfeited those wins due to Derrick Rose being ineligible. If the Orange can come out victorious, that brings the total to 39 wins and an undisputed record. The really intriguing part is that Kentucky is on the exact same pace. A National Championship showdown could be not only for the National Title, but also for the all-time single season win record.

39-1. Looks great in print right? The last time the Orange lost just one game was during the 1925-1926 season, 86 years ago. That team won the National Championship, in case you were wondering.

Syracuse has had a special season, but it has a chance to put this season in the record books. Some might suggest the Orange should rest its starters against Louisville. They might say that the championship is all that matters, and the Big East Tournament and National Championship means more than an undefeated season at home and the single-season wins record.

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My question is why not both?

We see this in the NFL anytime a team  is flirting with 16-0. Should they go for it or is the Super Bowl all that matters? I’m on the “if you have the opportunity, you have to go for it” side.

If Boeheim believes his team can win the National Championship, then he needs to go for 39 wins. Winning is great. Winning like on one else has ever done is even better.

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Matt Goodman

About Matt Goodman

Matt worked for the Westchester Journal News, where he is originally from, covering a variety of sports. He has also covered Syracuse University basketball from 2003-05 in both online and print. Matt graduated from Syracuse University in 2004 and currently resides in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @mattgoodman44.
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