As a freshman during the 2009-2010 Syracuse basketball season, the Orange ascended to the No. 1 ranking in March, a culmination of a season spent emerging from the ranks of the unranked.
The team was buzzing. The fans were pumped. As a freshman, I thought it was epic. I was told, at the time though, that while it is great to be ranked No. 1 in March (or virtually at any other point during the regular season), what really matters is being ranked No. 1 in April.
Which brings us to this year and “rankings.”
At this point in the Syracuse basketball season we have safely arrived at three automatic conclusions:
- This squad, like its recent forbearers, is good. There’s potential to be great.
- Tyler Ennis is magnificent thus far. C.J. Fair is C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant is a future pro, and Trevor Cooney is actually making 3-pointers.
- Syracuse will be OK despite losing DaJuan Coleman for the rest of the year.
But there is one conclusion that people (at least voters) don’t, well, conclude: that Syracuse is the best team in the country. Not yet, at least. For seven straight weeks, SU has sat at No. 2, right behind Arizona.
Now, I’ve never been one for early or mid-season rankings. As I learned in my younger years, the final rankings truly matter.
But at the same time, when SU was ranked No. 1 in the country for seemingly forever two years ago, and for that brief week back in 2010, it was thrilling. The spotlight is on your team and your school. Life at the top can be good!
As a fan, no one else’s team can claim a place above yours. For that moment, at least.
Arizona seems to have a firm grasp on that ranking now, and that’s okay. Let the Orange sit in “second.”
Last year, SU never tasted the top ranking during the regular season. But I’ll take that Final Four. No point in getting caught up in a top ranking only to fizzle come March.
SU’s current No. 2 ranking won’t mean a thing if the Orange don’t act on it come tourney time. I’m sure ‘Zona fans would gladly take a No. 2 or No. 3 ranking right now if it meant winning a title at the end.
Football will not bring ‘Cuse into the national discussion. Basketball will. Hoops are what propel SU fans out of bed on cold mornings. No. 1 or No. 2 or any ranking is great. But we should focus on enjoying these great games, wins, and players. We should try to pry our eyes away from those darn rankings.
Easier said than done, I know. Syracuse has been consistently ranked high the last five years. A ranking is instant gratification and our society loves that. But as long as SU has a top seed and location come tourney time, that’s what matters.
Now, flash back to that No. 1 ranking four years ago. That top ranking? Only lasted a week. SU lost in the Sweet 16 that year. And while I’ll always remember that amazing season, a championship would have been icing on the cake.
So now, as an alum, I’m content with a No. 2 ranking. We need patience. We need to know that these rankings fluctuate, and that they’re not an ultimate decision on who will be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.
There’s many games left to play. So let’s take this great season in. Enjoy the success.
It’s only January. Let SU be No. 1 in April.