This has been in my mind all night since watching Louisville get wrecked by Providence and Ohio State lose its third game of the season last night. It occurred to me that the knock on Syracuse everyone continues to make is actually exactly what makes this team so capable of going deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Note: Please forgive me for stating the obvious, and re-stating what many of us have been preaching all year, but I hope I'm taking it at least a half step farther this time.
In my opinion (and I think many people's opinions), the reason it's so hard to predict who will win the national title is because it's just so difficult to win six consecutive games against the toughest competition on the country. Even if you are a No. 1 seed, you could potentially play five ranked teams (or close-to-ranked teams) in a row. You have to be on every one of those nights, and if you have a bad day, your season is over. This is why the "best" teams continually get bounced early in the tournament and teams like UConn and Butler can wind up in the championship game last year.
The point: Many people (idiots) doubt Sryacuse's national title hopes because they don't have a "go-to-guy." The thinking being, you need that guy to step up in a big game, and that's what takes a great team and makes it a championship team.
But what if that "go-to-guy" has a bad game? Your season is over. Just like that.
Now, this didn't happen in the Ohio State game last night. Sullinger scored 21 points in 38 minutes. Ohio State just ran into a 43-point performance from Brandon Paul and got flat out beat. But in the Buckeyes' previous two losses, that's all you kept hearing about.
Dec 10 - Ohio State loses to Kansas. Sullinger didn't play. If only he had played, they would have won. Therefore, they're still the best.
Dec 31 - Ohio State loses to Indiana. Sullinger was in foul trouble. He only had 15 points in 29 minutes. If he had stayed out of foul trouble, they would have won. So they're still the best.
Syracuse doesn't have this problem. Kris Joseph can literally disappear for a game against a soon-to-be-ranked Seton Hall, and the Orange still cruise to victory. If any one guy has an off night, there are so many other guys that can step up in his place. There's a reason SU is 17-0 right now, and it's because of that consistency.
The most important thing to remember (Ron Morris!) is that the National Championship might not go to the "best" team.
It's going to go to the only team that can win six games in a row on the biggest stage. And right now, there's no team that looks more capable of that than your Syracuse Orange.