After Tuesday night's 65-60 win over the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, it occurred to some of us that the Syracuse Orange just beat two Top-15 opponents in the same week. The Orange topped the No. 12 Louisville Cardinals, 69-59, just a few days ago. What a glorious feat!
This isn't all that common for a couple of reasons. For one, Syracuse doesn't play two Top-15 programs in the same seven-day span very often. As the title so aptly points out, there are only 15 teams in all of Division I that fit this category, so getting two of them so close together is rare in and of itself. The second reason is that, hey, it's hard to beat two really good programs (essentially) right in a row.
The last time this happened was the 2010-2011 season. First, No. 17 Syracuse beat the No. 15 Villanova Wildcats, 69-64, on the road on February 21, 2011. The days leading up to this game were filled with story lines: aside from the usual Rick-Scoop-Dion-Philly connections, the Orange were struggling with roster changes and injuries. What's more, whoever won this edition of Nova-Cuse would be thisclose to the
highly sought after dreaded double bye in the Big East Tournament. Ah, the Big East. Remember that?
Next, and a mere five days later, Syracuse won in Washington, D.C. against the No. 11 Georgetown Hoyas. Mind you, this was despite the Hoyas' best efforts to keep any orange out of the building. It was a Gray Out on Senior Night, and Syracuse ruined it with the 58-51 win. Remember that? (Here's more proof via photos and videos, just because.)
Now, you may be thinking "Syracuse was ranked for these games. Were they ever a significant underdog?" Well, yes. Yes they were.
It was just one year earlier. At the beginning of the 2009-2010, Syracuse was unranked in the AP poll heading into the 2K Sports Classic preseason tournament at Madison Square Garden. They knocked off the No. 13 California Golden Bears, 95-73, using crazy defense (six blocks) from Wesley Johnson, and 22 points from Scoop Jardine. This was the beginning of the "Shut It Down" season. I know you remember that.
The next day, Syracuse forced the No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels to turn the ball over 19 times on their way to an 87-71 win over the defending national champs. The Orange had 14 steals, seven of which were attributed to Mr. Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku had eight rebounds, and Wes, with his 25 points, was well on his way to being one-and-done. Sadly, we all remember that.
What do these four games have in common? Aside from being fantastic wins, they represent great moments in Orange history that fans still remember. From the ticket conspiracy at the Verizon Center, to the rise of an anthem that defined a season (and remains on my playlists), these games were more than games. They were events -- they contained stories about which you can say: remember that?
It may take some time to get the perspective needed to know what the story arcs will be for these most recent games against Louisville and Notre Dame, but whether it's Michael Gbinije's not-so-silent consistency or Rakeem Christmas's 29-point stunning showcase, one thing is for certain: you'll be able to say you remembered that.