We forget but there was a time, as recently as January, when no one outside of our fanbase cared about Syracuse Orange basketball.
And it was glorious.
Despite the fact that we were undefeated and No. 2 in the nation, no one was really taking any notice of us. There were no national stories. No one would mention us in their Final Four picks. There were no lengthy breakdowns of our offense or defense. There were no puff pieces.
Oh, how good we had it.
Then, Tyler Ennis put together one too many great performances and the national media finally noticed.
Then, Syracuse v. Duke I happened.
Then, Syracuse ascended to No. 1 in the nation, still undefeated.
Everyone in America suddenly had an opinion about SU, how far they'd go, how good they were and how soon this crazy winning streak would end.
And right about that same time, coincidentally, the cracks started to show in Syracuse's foundation. They repeatedly found themselves in close games against inferior opponents. They needed a miracle shot to beat Pitt. And another miracle moment to beat N.C. State. You didn't have to look very far to find a dissenting view of Syracuse Basketball. We were practically swimming in them.
It was 2012 all over again. "Syracuse is No.1 but do they deserve to be?"
For me, the most frustrating part about the loss to Boston College was that is seemed to confirm what everyone else was saying. The Orange were indeed a paper tiger, not worthy of their record or ranking. Second national title? Good luck getting out of the second weekend.
And then, once the initial shock started to wear off and the pain subsided, I instantly started to feel much, much better. I looked around at people's Final Four picks and, just like that, we're not in them anymore. People still think we're a good team but we're no longer worthy of 3,000 words or in-depth analysis. Regardless of the outcome of the Duke game, I know that someone else (Florida, probably) is going to take our spot at No. 1 and drop us back into the pack. We'll go back to being a very good team capable of anything but not expected to win it all.
I don't know if that's how I like Syracuse Basketball, but I certainly feel more comfortable here.
I don't like to take history and apply it to the present that much. Yet I can't help but notice every time we've entered the NCAA Tournament as a prohibitive favorite, we've fallen short. And every time we've made it to the Final Four, it was as "a very good team capable of anything but not expected to win it all."
Don't get me wrong, I still think this is amazing team. When things are clicking, I'll put them head-to-head with anyone. But things aren't clicking right in this moment. Haven't been for a while now. Maybe it's just the annual two-to-three-week stretch in which SU Basketball's inevitably struggles. Maybe it's being tired. Maybe it's pressure. Maybe it's just a season full of near-misses and should-have-losts catching up with us.
What I'm saying is, I still believe in this team. National folks do not.
And, man, does that feel better.
- Syracuse Basketball: In Defense Of Blue
- Syracuse vs. Boston College: A Look At The Orange's First Loss, By The Numbers
- An Open Letter To SU Athletics: Blue Has Got To Go
- Syracuse Basketball: What Exactly Is A Bad Loss?
- Syracuse Basketball Roundtable: Addressing the Criticisms
- The Orange Eagle Trophy: Well Played, Eagles…Well Played
- And The Grand Syracuse T-Shirt Madness Reaches Its Inevitable Tipping Point
- Report Card: Boston College Ends Syracuse's Unbeaten Streak 62-59
- Who is Syracuse's Best Point Guard of All-Time?
- Syracuse Sports Make Me Drink: Previewing Boston College & Duke