I'm doing my best not to look ahead or start assigning rankings or trying to compare this year's Syracuse Orange basketball team to last year's. There will be a time and place for all of that.
Instead, what I keep coming back to is that I think we can all agree that this year's Syracuse squad is not as "good" as some recent incarnations. And yet, they've made it further than the 2010 team that went into the NCAA Tournament as a one-seed. And they're going to do no worse than last year's one-seed group.
What it tells us is not that this year's team is better or 2010's team was actually worse. All it tell us is that the NCAA Tournament is a fickle b****. She cares not for how good you are in a given season. It matters not to her if you have All-Americans or lottery picks. She has no time to care if you're supposed to get to the Third Round or the Final Four.
All she does is lay out the road for you to walk. And then it's up to you to walk it.
Is this year's path to the Final Four easier than last year's? Maybe. Probably. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't say anything about this year's team and their three NCAA victories so far.
Who cares if the 1996 Syracuse team wasn't among the all-time best and got an easier road to the National Title game than others that came before them. They still won the games. They still made it all the way there. The how's and why's are insignificant.
That's why I didn't care if the 2nd half of the Cal game was ugly as sin. I could care less how much we win by, how dominant we look and "what it all means."
As long as we win basketball games, nothing else matters. You can have your regular season titles, Big East Tournament crowns and All-Americans all you want. I'll take a 20-12 National Champion over a 31-3 Sweet Sixteen flame-out every single time.
Not that those numbers define this year's team. This is a very good Syracuse basketball team and the rest of the country is finally waking up to that fact (and maybe we are, too). I suppose the point is, let's not nitpick our way through the next 36 hours. We made it to the Elite Eight. One game stands between us and the Final Four, between Jim Boeheim and his fourth Final Four in four decades. And then...who the hell knows.
How we get there is beyond meaningless. I would sit through a 37-34 basketball game if it meant we can get back to the promised land. Though, I really, really hope I won't have to...