Everyone and their mother knows that Syracuse Basketball is always a force to be reckoned with. The Orange always fields one of the toughest teams in the country year in and year out under Coach Jim Boeheim. This year started off no different, as they won their first 18 games of the season. However, all of a sudden something happened. Syracuse collapsed and looked to have major issues, winning just four out of ten games. However, in the midst of the major freak out, Syracuse scored two huge road victories against co-Big East power houses Villanova and Georgetown. So this makes you wonder; are they back to where they should be as one of the best teams in the NCAA or is there still cause for a concern despite those two wins?
The first question that probably jumps out about this team is:
How confident are they right now?
On one hand, defeating both Villanova, the 19th ranked team in the country, and Georgetown, the 17th ranked team in the country, back to back is an accomplishment in itself. Syracuse should know that they are as talented as they think they are, and can step up its play away from their home confines of the Carrier Dome. However, if you watched these games, you can tell Syracuse is still playing somewhat sloppy ball, and even Boeheim has said recently that there’s still some work to be done. Also keep in mind that Villanova and Georgetown haven’t exactly been playing their best recently either, and these games were not blowouts by any means.
When it comes down to it, if a team can win by succeeding in something they normally don’t excel it, the confidence will go through the roof; and the Orange just accomplished this. Syracuse is shooting 66 percent from the free-throw line this season, which is the worst in the Big East. However, Boeheim’s bunch managed to make 8-of-10 inside the final minute against Villanova and Georgetown to seal the two victories.
Just like in life, in sports, there’s always a Catch 22. With confidence, and big victories, comes big expectations to do something special. With four consecutive victories, Syracuse now has the second-longest winning streak in the league. Not to mention, the two wins against Villanova and Georgetown, were on the road and both teams are ranked ahead of the Orange. Also, be cognizant of one of the most famous sport clichés of all time:
“The best time to get hot is at the end of the regular season, so you can start the post season on fire.”
Syracuse is currently slotted as the fifth seed in the Big East and have seem to move beyond their mid-season woes. This has not gone unnoticed, nor has it been forgotten that they started the season 18-0. Clearly, the bar has been set closer to where it was in the beginning of the season.
Mid-season slump or not, the Syracuse Orange are still going to put fear into a lot of teams and will make some noise in the both the Big East and NCAA Tournament. Yes, they are playing better now, as it looks like they are peaking at the right time, and the worst is over. Although, the damage may have already been done; right now, this doesn’t look like a team that will make the Final Four and challenge for the National Championship. However, with their two victories at Villanova and Georgetown, Syracuse has at least put itself in the position to change that perception. If the team wins the Big East tournament, their confidence will be back.
On the other hand, a disappointing showing will send them reeling. This is a team in limbo and the Orange are about to show us how they want the 2011 season to be remembered as one of the best teams in the NCAA or a disappointing bunch that is loaded with inconsistency.