In a word? Yes. The Orange are overrated and have been on the verge of being exposed all season long. After just the second game of the season, Jim Boeheim called this team the “most overrated team that I’ve ever had.”
That means something when it comes from Boeheim, who is in his 35th season coaching the Orange. He’s not going to get an argument from me.
In the preseason ESPN/USA Today preseason poll Syracuse was ranked 13th. In the latest poll they ranked 7th. The only reason they moved up is because six teams above them lost. These polls mean very little.
If Syracuse had started the season ranked No. 20 then they would probably have moved up about six spots like they currently have and be ranked 14th. But it would be the exact same team as the one that’s now ranked 7th.
The voters can’t possibly watch all the games so they look at the results and move teams up based on wins and losses as opposed to how well they played.
One of Boeheim’s mantra’s early in the season has been, “It’s how you play; it’s not who you play.”
But let’s set that aside and look at who they’ve played. If you look at the names it doesn’t look like the early season cupcake schedule Syracuse is used to.
None are powerhouses but Northern Iowa and Cornell both did well in the tournament last season, Michigan and Georgia Tech have had historically good programs, and Canisius and Detroit make the occasional NCAA Tournament as well. But when you dig a bit deeper, the Orange have played no one of significance.
As you can see, there’s not a signature win on there.
Whether Syracuse is overrated might have to do with how you view the polls. Are they based on a team’s potential looking forward or are they meant to determine who is the best when the polls come out?
Currently, Syracuse is not the 7th best team in the country. Could they be? Of course.
And they’ve shown glimpses of it in just about every game they’ve played. Brandon Triche came through with clutch shots against Canisius, Syracuse doesn’t beat Detroit without Scoop Jardine’s performance, Dion Waiters gave them the spark they needed against William & Mary, and Kris Joseph has finally played up to expectations in the past three games.
The only consistent player has been Rick Jackson. He’s been tremendous on both ends of the floor and has recorded a double-double in the last six games.
But the Orange have yet to string together two good halves and as Boeheim said, “You can’t play bad basketball and win games against good teams, and we’re playing bad basketball. We’ve been playing bad basketball pretty much from the first game to now.’’
Now is the time to turn it around. They face North Carolina State on Saturday and then No. 6 Michigan State on Tuesday.
If they win those two and begin to play to their potential, then all this overrated talk will be forgotten.
Robbie Gillies is a senior columnist at The Juice Online. He is also an editor at Real Clear Sports. See more at http://www.realclearsports.com/