Syracuse has won 31 games to this point. They’ve set a Big East record with 17 conference wins. They were No. 1 for more than a month.
All nice things. All school or conference records.
All things that have exactly zero relevance now. Seasons aren’t measured by wins in December or January. They’re measured by wins in March.
And as I type this, the Orange has exactly zero wins in the NCAA tournament.
Syracuse will start its quest for the Final Four this Thursday in Pittsburgh, and there’s no question that it’s Final Four or bust.
Let me repeat that—if Syracuse doesn’t play in New Orleans, this season will be a failure.
“We’re trying to win the NCAA Tournament. That’s the main focus,” guard Dion Waiters said. “That’s the main goal and that’s what we all talked about at the end of the day.”
It’s all the goal has ever been.
Sure, it’s nice that Syracuse was No. 1 for a decent stretch of the season.
But you know what? Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins’ 2009-10 team was No. 1, too.
That team was entertaining, unselfish and very talented. But all anyone ever says about that team is how Arinze Onuaku’s knee injury ruined their season. A Sweet 16 was simply not enough.
Success in the Big East championship? Sure that is a nice footnote, but the last two times SU has done that, first round NCAA exits have followed.
Do we remember Hakim Warrick hoisting the Big East championship trophy, or do we just repeat after Gus Johnson: “Sorrentine… hit that one from the parking lot!”
In fact, in Boeheim’s four other Final Four appearances, exactly zero of those teams won a conference tournament.
So now, the real season begins, and the goal isn’t exactly easy to get to.
In SU’s own region, a possible second-round matchup with No. 8 Kansas State looms. Cincinnati, one of two teams that have already beaten Syracuse, is the No. 6 team. If SU can advance to the Elite 8, a possible date with Jared Sullinger and No. 2 Ohio State await them.
“The way college basketball is now, whoever you are, whether you’re VCU or Syracuse, the only thing that really matters is how you do in the tournament,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We know that, and we’re going to be prepared for that.”
We’re about to find out how prepared SU really is.
- Syracuse podcast: Andrew Kouwe on Hopkins leaving, Boeheim staying, next coach - March 24, 2017
- For Syracuse, another one-goal win against Johns Hopkins comes as no surprise - March 19, 2017
- Instant Juice: Mike Hopkins to leave Syracuse, take over at Washington - March 19, 2017
- Syracuse podcast: Chris Carlson on the NIT, 2017 basketball recruiting, Greensboro - March 17, 2017
- Instant Juice: Syracuse 90, UNC Greensboro 77 - March 15, 2017
- Instant Juice: Syracuse basketball left out of NCAA Tournament - March 12, 2017
- Syracuse lacrosse surges, sputters, then hangs on for win against St. John’s - March 12, 2017
- Jim Boeheim pleads case for Syracuse after ACC Tournament loss - March 9, 2017
- Syracuse coach says there’s ‘no value’ in playing ACC Tournament in Greensboro - March 8, 2017
- Instant Juice: Syracuse 57, Miami 62 - March 8, 2017