I wanted to see Syracuse play against better competition. I wanted to see how they would respond. Through the first four games, the Orange had an average margin of victory of 32.5 points. You don’t learn much about a team from wins like that against opponents like Colgate and Fordham. Virginia Tech was going to be a real test. And through the first half Syracuse did not respond well. But luckily they played the 2nd half and the Orange responded to pull out the 69-58 victory.
Trailing Virginia Tech 40-37 with 14:03 left in the second half, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim perused his bench and summoned Dion Waiters to come into the game. It was a huge vote of confidence from Boeheim to Waiters. “Last year, in a situation like that, he probably wouldn’t have come to me,” Waiters said. “He has faith in me know just knowing that the hard work in the offseason is finally paying off.”
Year after year the Syracuse Orange leaves Madison Square Garden after an early season tournament and fans and experts alike usually have some indication of how the team is going to fare for the remainder of the season. This year, however, barring an unforeseen collapse, Syracuse will win and we still won’t know anything about this team.
UAB, it seems, was included primarily because of their impressive (though inflated) computer numbers and a Conference USA regular season title. But any good college basketball fan knows that the RPI is not a reliable tool and can be manipulated by savvy scheduling. How can one justify rewarding UAB for its 12-4 Conference USA record and first place finish in conference play, while leaving out Alabama, who finished first in its division in the SEC with that same 12-4 mark?
The Big Ten expansion this past offseason set off another wave of panic over whether we’d seen our last classic tournament performance at Madison Square Garden. This time, it was the Big 12 that had to deal with the fallout, but in 2003, we were the ones who had to figure out how to keep the conference together after losing three members. To say that Big East basketball survived is putting it mildly. But what of those who followed the cash to the ACC?