Syracuse In NCAA Tournament: The 31-2 Underdog

Mar 8, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Kris Joseph (32) is defended by Connecticut Huskies guard Shabazz Napier (13) and guard/forward Jeremy Lamb (3) during the second half of the third round at the Big East Tournament held at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Don't ever let anyone tell you the regular season means anything. Seriously. Don't listen to Bud Poliquin, who thinks the end result of the 2011-2012 Syracuse Orange basketball season does not dictate its status as a success. That's a load of nonsense. How do I know this?

Just look around at what almost everyone is saying about Syracuse's chances in the NCAA Tournament.

Goodness gravy! You'd think we were the 16 seed the way some people are sizing us up. Sure, you knew Doug Gottlieb was going to dislike our chances but it's almost impressive to see how we're being written off with ease by the majority of prognosticators.

Now granted, I must admit that writing a "no one likes Syracuse" post right before Syracuse starts the NCAA Tournament as a one-seed and a 10-1 favorite to win the NCAA Title is the most Syracuse thing I can do, but, I mean, it's not just me, right?

That's why when I saw people getting bent out of shape over Dan Wolken's column early Monday, I was like, "Slow down, you guys. Waaaaay more people to get pissed off that here." And that's why I don't think we should. As much as possible, temper your, uh, tempers. You're going to drive yourself insane trying to influence those who look at Syracuse's rebounding stats and recent history of close games and don't see this one-seed getting out of the Sweet Sixteen, let alone the East Region.

Honestly, there's nothing you can do or say at this point. It's up to the team to get it done. And I have to tell you, the more people crap on our chances (figuratively and possibly literally), the more I like said chances.

I love love love the idea of Syracuse suddenly being an underdog. Just like that, a 31-2 team that was No. 1 in the country for six weeks is playing against the expectation that they're going to lose sooner than later. The national perception is that they're not only the weakest one-seed, but possibly the weakest team amongst all of the one and two seeds.

Perfect.

Give that to Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph and let them run with it. Let them use that in the locker room. Let them feed off that when they step on the court. Let that kick them in the ass when they're down by eight midway through the first half and all those people who expected this are nodding their heads.

Let this team play the "We were disrespected" card all tournament long. I'll take that any day over what Kentucky has to deal with. The Wildcats are the ones with the targets on their back. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt, Florida State and Ohio State fans are already writing off the Orange. Assuming a win over them based on what they've read and seen.

Fantastic. Let them.

Clearly, our role has been defined for us headed into this tournament. We are overachievers and charlatans who will be exposed next weekend if not this one. That's the script that's been written. You and I know this team is better than that, or at least is very capable of being better than that. It's a flawed group but one with enough talent to win the National Title.

And the more people expect us not to, the more determined our guys become to prove them wrong.

The team slogan at the beginning of the season was "Family: It Runs Deep" and the mantra at the end of the year was "We All We Got." That's never been more true than in the days leading up to the NCAA Tournament when, it seems, no one expects the Orange to win except themselves (and us).

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