The NCAA Selection Committee must had a nice chuckle when they decided to slot Vermont against Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In case you have the shortest-memory in the world, let's get reminded on what happened last time.
In one of its worst post-season losses ever, Syracuse infamously suffered a 60-57 overtime loss to Vermont in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Syracuse was a 4-seed that year, while Vermont was a 13-seed. The loss was the final game for Syracuse seniors Hakim Warrick, Craig Forth and Josh Pace, who two years earlier had played key roles on SU’s national championship team.
I missed the Richmond debacle and many of the Syracuse fans from my generation did as well. For us, the run Syracuse had in the early 90's is a part of history, not something we can tangibly remember. But we can remember 2005. We can remember how sure we were that the '05 squad was special. We remember that it felt like SU could go deep in the tournament and end up, well, who knows. We remember feeling like this was once again our year.
When we lost 60-57, it stung more than most other fans can imagine. Syracuse fans felt robbed. Sure, the team could only blame itself for the upset, but, it's so much easier to blame Vermont. Especially when the insufferable Tom Brennan went on to get an ESPN career based on this one win. And it seemed like anytime SU was playing, there he was at halftime to taunt us with his visage. A cruel reminder.
And then there's Taylor Coppenrath. I mean, look at this schnook. This is the reason Hakim Warrick never got to lead the Orange back into the Final Four? Unconscionable.
Syracuse fans have spent the better part of the last five years continually seething over that loss. Just like the garbage fire that burns underneath Centralia, PA and forced all of the residents to move away, the Vermont loss continues to simmer and smoke below the surface and we've been unable to put it out.
Until now. The NCAA has given us a grand gift this year. A chance to once and for all rid ourselves of this stink.
Sure, we've played Vermont since '05 (uh, no we haven't, idiot) but not in the NCAA Tournament under the same circumstances. The Orange already enter the tournament with a touch of uncertainly and doubt. They can no only put that to rest by beating Vermont, but they can put the haunting specter of 2005 to bed as well with a dominant performance.
It's not very often that the fans of a 1-seed want to see the 16-seed demolished. If anything, the fans of the top team usually feel bad for the over-matched little guy. Not here. We take no such pity on the Catamounts. If we win by 30, there will be Syracuse fans disappointed it wasn't by 40. If we only win by 10, there will be a lot of Syracuse fans bothered we didn't do more.
The Vermont players say they're excited because they remember what happened in '05. Guess what...so do we.