NCAA Tournament: Are Syracuse Fans Already In Gravy Mode?

Rich Barnes

Are you telling yourself you'll be happy if Syracuse just gets to a certain point? Yep, you're a Syracuse fan.

A perfect example of what it's like to be a Syracuse Orange fan actually occurred right about the time the team was 15-0 in January.

Off to such a great start, Syracuse fans started to openly talk themselves into the inevitable first loss. They would say that they knew the Orange would lose probably lose to the North Carolina Tar Heels on January 11. And if they didn't lose that one, they'd almost certainly lose to the Pittsburgh Panthers on January 18. Either way would be fine because we expect to lose and by admitting that we expect to lose and that we consider it a good loss, it's totally cool.

It's such a Syracuse fan thing to do. And it looks like we're doing it again.

I'm just as guilty as anyone. When anyone has asked me how far I think Syracuse will go in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, I say that I can't see them going past the Sweet Sixteen. I say that the Sweet Sixteen feels like the ceiling.

Unsaid by me is "anything past the Sweet Sixteen is gravy."

Admit it, you're probably feeling that way right now too.

I've made no bones about my distaste for the "gravy boat" way of thinking. And I stand by what I said last year...

Look, I'll boil it down. If you're good enough to make it this far, you're good enough to make it to the Elite 8. And if you're good enough to make it to the Elite 8, you're good enough to make it to the Final Four. And if you're good enough to make it to the Final Four, well, you get it. You take it a game at a time but if you can survive and advance, you can keep surviving and advancing.

Most Syracuse seasons are roller-coasters. This season was one as well, though it was the kind that's a constant climb for what seems like forever followed by one of the steepest falls possible. And yet, for all the night-terrors, and day-terrors, and anytime-terrors for that matter, they're still 27-5. They're still a 3-seed. They're still expected to beat teams seeded lower than them.

And if they can get to the point where they're playing a higher-seed, well, the very fact that they're there means they've got a chance.

There will be time for gravy. But, please, don't pour it on your roasted Brussels sprouts just yet.

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