On Syracuse Basketball's Season To Date & The No. 1 Reaction

I know, I know...

I should just put my head down, put on some LL Cool J, shadow-box and just let the Syracuse Orange basketball team do their talking on the court.

I shouldn't keep worrying about what the naysayers and the critics have to say about the No. 1 team in the nation and whether or not they deserve to be.

I shouldn't get worked up about Dana O'Neil and that bug up her ass about Syracuse.

I should just let things play out. And yet...

If you look ahead just a little bit, there's a chance we could be here for a while. After the NC State game, Syracuse finishes up the non-con slate with Bucknell and Tulane before starting Big East play with Seton Hall, DePaul and Providence. I don't want to jinx anything but we might have to listen to this crap for a few weeks yet.

So I want to talk this out. I want to try and be as level-headed as I can about it. And I want to see if we can cut through the BS and generic complaints to figure out what everyone's problem seems to be with No. 1 SU.

SOS

According to the experts, Syracuse's schedule to-date has been "weak" and the Orange have played no one of any merit.

Real Time RPI tells me that Syracuse has played the 29th-toughest schedule in the nation.

Wait, what? How can that be?

Surely, if we played the 29th-toughest schedule, then Ohio State's schedule must be the toughest schedule ever played by any human beings. I mean, that's what we've been led to believe.

Ohio State's schedule to-date is the 82nd-toughest in the nation. Oh...

(For the record, Kentucky's schedule is rated 17th-best. You'd swear they had the best schedule the nation the way people talk about them, too)

Syracuse has played one team in the RPI Top 50 (No. 45 Stanford) and three more in the Top 70 (No. 58 Florida, No. 59 Virginia Tech, No. 62 Marshall). And they're about to play No. 89 NC State and No. 95 Bucknell right after.

In other words, while Syracuse's schedule isn't a collection of bigtime heavyweights, it's not the massive horror show people are making it out to be. They just haven't played the teams that the experts WANT them to play.

The MSG Games & Florida Home Game

Obviously, we all know that Syracuse doesn't get any credit for winning ay Madison Square Garden and, for some reason, they never get credit for winning any game, let alone big games, at home. Sometimes, it seems like they'd be better off not playing the games at all.

Anyway, here's my beef with the critique of the MSG games...

1. First of all, Virginia Tech and Stanford aren't bad teams. They're not world-beaters, but they're solid programs that will make a case for the NCAA Tournament this season.

2. Contrary to popular belief, Syracuse is not in charge of scheduling who plays in these tournaments. In year's past, the Preseason NIT has featured some of the top programs in the nation, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Villanova, UCLA and many more. That this year's field didn't meet that standard isn't our fault.

3. Obviously, shame on us for playing Florida at home. We should only play them on the road. That would be the fair solution. Never at home. Shame, shame, shame on us.

Dana O'Neil's Ass Bug

Seriously, this needs to be discussed. Check out her reaction to a question about Syracuse's case for being No. 1.

How is Syracuse not the best team in the country after going through the toughest off court issue this season? All they do is win, unc losing to UNLV was a joke!
Jason King (3:03 PM)

You’re right, those narrow wins against Eastern Michigan, George Washington and Colgate, unranked Virginia Tech and Pac-12 power Stanford – all in their home state – were really impressive.

What is she even talking about? Narrow wins? We beat those teams by 36 points, 35 points and 45 points!!! WE BEAT EACH OF THOSE TEAMS BY 30+ POINTS!!!

And we beat Virginia Tech by 11 and beat a very solid Stanford team by six. But alas, that was in our "home state."

"All in their home state." WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN???? ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGG.

If UCLA played games in San Francisco, would that count as a home game?

When Pittsburgh plays Villanova, is that a home game for both teams? Neither of them?

DANA, THAT IS SUCH A DUMB STATEMENT AND YOU ARE DUMB FOR SAYING IT AND WE FEEL DUMB HAVING TO POINT OUT HOW DUMB YOU SOUND.

Syracuse Isn't Sexy

I think it's subconscious. I honestly do. I don't think the folks at ESPN actively dislike Syracuse (except for Dana). However, I do think that they subconsciously don't want Syracuse to be No. 1 because Syracuse is not one of the "talking points" laid out all off-season.

Think about it. Who have you been hearing about nationally since last season ended? You've been hearing about how loaded North Carolina is. You've been hearing about Jared Sullinger and Ohio State. You've been hearing about Kentucky and their revolving door of talent.

You have not been hearing about Syracuse. Because Syracuse isn't flashy. Syracuse doesn't boast All-Americans. It doesn't have superstars. It's hard to quantify Syracuse in a soundbite on SportsCenter or your local ESPN radio station.

And so, subconsciously, Syracuse being No. 1 makes life harder in some way, for lazy college basketball experts (which is most of them). It forces them to accept that the 3-4 teams that were "supposed" to dominate this season aren't the only teams allowed to do so. It would be easier if we were a mid-major or had a super-duper-star averaging 25 PPG. But we don't. So we don't work.

I don't think that tells the whole story and obviously there are merits to some arguments against SU as No. 1, but I honestly think this plays a part. It's why Dana O'Neill goes out of her way to discredit SU's wins. It's why Eamonn Brennan seems certifiably upset with Syracuse's ascension, as if Dion Waiters punched his dog on the way there. Why else does it seem to personal?

(This turned out to not be level-headed at all. Oh well...)

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