Among the many offseason-y things a sports publication can do is rank teams and create random brackets (especially in college sports).
Now, I don’t necessarily consider the NCAA a “publication,” but they have been creating content this offseason with Andy Katz at the helm. The biggest endeavor so far is their best starting five project, which created a 32-team bracket of top programs and pitted their “five best players” ever against one another.
Michigan’s not on the list at all, because they wanted to avoid mentioning the Fab Five (though the NCAA certainly won’t say as much). And there are plenty of other questionable calls here as well. But the reason we’re here is to talk about the Syracuse Orange’s matchup with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons:
West Round 1:— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) July 24, 2018
(4) - @Cuse_MBB
(5) - @WakeMBB#MMBest5
First things first, if you have a Twitter account, vote for Syracuse since we’re currently (somehow) losing. That gap was much larger yesterday, but we’ve since closed it significantly. Still, going to need a final push since with over 10,000 overall votes logged, it seems every Wake fan in existence has already voted.
Second, is this Syracuse’s actual best five? Their picks, for those that can’t see Twitter or refuse to click through for some unknown reason:
PG: Sherman Douglas
SG: Pearl Washington
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Hakim Warrick
C: Derrick Coleman
It’s not a bad list at all, though perhaps it could be refined a bit. Dave Bing (arguably the greatest player SU’s had) could potentially be swapped in for Pearl. Obviously Carmelo was an immense talent and delivered a title, but was Moten — the program’s all-time leading scorer — the better college player by way of an excellent four-year career (versus one for Anthony)? Billy Owens has one of the highest rebounds-per-game averages (8.83) in school history, though I don’t know if that helps him supplant Warrick, necessarily. DC is certainly a lock, however.
If I picked my own squad, it’s probably Sherm, Bing, Carmelo, Warrick and DC. Syracuse has a pretty nice second unit if we’re looking at a full roster too, though: Gerry McNamara, Pearl, Moten, Owens and Rony Seikaly.
The partial problem with this sort of Twitter-only voting is also that it’s reliant on both recency bias and the recollection of NBA careers. Wake Forest’s representatives include Chris Paul and Tim Duncan — names every potential voter knows from their NBA days. And plenty of fans have a penchant for grading these sorts of (already subjective) things on NBA production when it’s truly a college list. Alas...
If you haven’t voted already, go ahead and do so. Should Syracuse move on here, they’ll be up against 1-seed UCLA, which is pretty daunting. Also, UConn already moved on and Georgetown somehow avoided a first round upset (as is their ritual). So let’s just get this win from a pride standpoint, if nothing else.