The best part of the day wasn't the show SU fans put on for the Gameday audience.
It wasn't the massive influx of Orange fans, alums and followers that descended on Syracuse, NY.
It wasn't the record-breaking crowd of 34,616.
It wasn't the Big Heads and the signs and the chants and the orange shirts.
The best part? Beating the snot out of No. 7 Villanova 95-77 in front of a national audience. Winning the game that has been hyped up so much, everyone's eyes were on it. Winning the game in such a way that leap-frogging Purdue to take over as No. 1 on Monday is a distinct possibility.
Everything else was great. But it was just window-dressing with a season-defining victory to cap it all.
Rick Jackson poured in 19 points to lead a balanced Orange attack, as fourth-ranked Syracuse pulled away to beat No. 7 Villanova, 95-77, in front of an NCAA on-campus record crowd at the Carrier Dome.
Arinze Onuaku tallied 17 points and nine rebounds, while Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph each scored 16 for Syracuse, which won for the 14th time in 15 games and clinched a share of the Big East title and the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament.
What else can you say but that when six players score in double-figures, the Orange are playing about as well as a team as they possibly can.
Their two biggest guns, Andy Rautins and Wes Johnson, combined to shoot 5-for-20 but found other ways to chip in. Wes with 10 rebounds, Andy with 8 assists. The two inside players, Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson at several points this season called out for their aggressiveness or lack thereof, combined for 36 points and 17 rebounds.The Orange only committed one second half turnover. They held down the Big East's # 1 scoring team to 41% shooting and 77 points. Their "bench" players, Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine, chipped in 32 points and 16 rebounds combined.
What else is left to say other than, without a doubt, this Syracuse team is among the elite in the nation and there is nothing anyone can say to dispute it. Sure, they might not play this well every night but they always seen to play this well when the competition demands it. No one has beaten more ranked teams by double-digits. Some (see Jeff Goodman) may argue that Syracuse's resume isn't the best in the nation but that's nitpicking. Syracuse might be the No. 1 team on Monday, they might not. It's not the most important thing in the world.
Being No. 1 in April is much more important. And expectations being what they are, every SU fan is now pretty sure we should be there when it's all over.
- What they're saying about the record crowd and Syracuse's win over Villanova...Syracuse.com
- Dome-ination: Syracuse trounces Villanova in front of record crowd...Mike Waters
- Philadelphia natives Jardine, Jackson, revel in the Syracuse win...Donna Ditota
- Syracuse-Nova notes: Balanced attack carries Orange...Mike Waters
- With the crowd big and loud, and with the foe so very good, the Orange made its statement...Bud Poliquin
- From ESPN GameDay to the final buzzer: How Central New York celebrated SU vs. Villanova...Donnie Webb
- MAKING ITS CASE: After crushing Villanova in front of record crowd, Syracuse looks to move into the top spot in the rankings...Matt Ehalt
- Stat of the game...Cuse Country
- Syracuse Shuts Down Nova...Three Idiots on Sports
- Nova-Geddon: Destruction...Orange Fizz
- Final Thoughts: Syracuse 95, Villanova 77...D.O. Sports Blog
- #4 Syracuse Obliterates #7 Villanova, 95-77, As Saturday Night Showdown Snuffed Out Early...Villanova Viewpoint
- Orange crush too much for Villanova...Dana O'Neil