Written By: Kenny Mauss

The Syracuse Orangemen were not ranked when this season began. Outside of campus (and yours truly) nobody expected the type of season that has occurred thus far in upstate New York. They have climbed to #2 in the most recent AP Poll, which is there highest ranking since winning the National Title in 2003 led by Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara. It has been a very exciting season thus far for the Orangemen, starting with there back to back victories over  then #13 ranked California and #6 ranked North Carolina in the Garden early in the season. They still haven’t cooled off. They currently sit at 23-1 with a 10-1 record inside of the Big East. Jim Boeheim’s squad has definitely solidified themselves as not just Big East contenders, but are playing National Championship quality basketball, and have continued to play at this level for the entire season…

Led by Wesley Johnson, the transfer from Iowa State (1 of 8 transfers over the entire 32 years that Jim Boeheim has been head coach) along with sharp shooter Andy Rautins the Orange have been able to score lots of points against all kinds of teams this season. Freshman Scoop Jardine has the Orange pushing the ball upcourt throughout the game allowing for lots of transition opportunities. While the Orange have been scoring nearly at will against the best conference in men’s basketball, perhaps more impressive has been their ability to play defense this season. Jim Boeheim is known for his 2-3 zone he employs at the Carrier Dome and how tenacious it can be at times. This season though, the Orange have played more man defense than usual, because of their speed and length. Because of their past, when teams game plan for Syracuse, they prepare their offense to play against a zone defense. This year though, the ability to play man defense, even if only several possessions a game, has caught the opposition by surprise. The ability to play man defense is the x factor for Syracuse this season. If they are able to continue stellar defense while scoring at will, they will win the Big East this year, and be destined for a  Final Four appearance.

With only 7 games remaining in the Big East regular season for the Orange, plus the Big East tournament, The Orange seem to be on there way to a #1 seed this coming March. While it may not have been expected when the season began several months ago, expectations are now as high as the Carrier Dome and it is a good time to be a Syracuse basketball fan. There hasn’t been this much excitement since Carmelo and Gerry were in the Orange.