The Syracuse Orange, under Jim Boeheim since the beginning of time, have had a surprisingly difficult path to the Elite Eight this year. The Orange have struggled against all three of their opponents (at least at times), but have managed to scrape out victories in each game, often in the last seconds.
First up was the 16-seeded Bulldogs of UNC-Asheville. Coming into the tournament Ken Pomeroy excitedly told everyone that this might be the year for the fabled 16/1 upset. We very nearly got it from the Bulldogs, as they carried a lead against the Orange for much of the game, until a back and forth affair (with some questionable rules interpretation issues) ended up in Syracuse’s favor 72-65.
The Orange followed that win with a more lopsided victory over the Kansas State Wildcats. Despite the 75-59 final score, the Wildcats had the game within one at the half and even led briefly early in the second. Syracuse, however, had the legs to overpower the underdog Wildcats through the second half, and slowly ran away with the game to end their first weekend of play.
Last night, however, was a much different story. The Wisconsin Badgers, a tough hard-nosed team out of the Big Ten (with whom I’m sure many of us are familiar) gave the Orange the fight of their life. While Syracuse did a good job of keeping the Badgers out of the paint, they were unable to stop Bo Ryan’s boys from dropping 42 points from beyond the arc on 51.9% three point shooting. Outside shooting is one fool-proof way of beating the Orange, and Wisconsin almost managed it. However, a general weakness in the paint on both ends of the court, something that Wisconsin has struggled with all season long, doomed the Badgers. They were unable to get a quality last second shot, and were totally ineffectual playing defense inside against Syracuse’s bigs.
The madness continues here at the Buckeye Battle Cry! This has to be one of our favorite times of the year (really, who doesn’t feel that way?) and we love to celebrate by talking about as many teams, games, and players as we can! Joe Dexter was kind enough to get the whole thing kicked off this morning with a preview of the West Region. Now it’s my turn to take a look at the home-favorite East Region. Tomorrow, WVaBuckeye and MaliBuckeye will take a look at the two remaining regions, so that you can have plenty of time to read and peruse your way to what is hopefully a winning bracket!
Make sure you join the BBN’s Bracket Challenge this year! Bragging rights abound!
Favorites: The East region is graced with a few powerful teams that could be poised to make a deep run. The Syracuse Orange obviously stand in the best position of everyone in the region. The Orange hold a 32-2 season record, including non-conference wins over fellow tournament teams Florida and NC State. Seven-footer Fab Melo, a Sophomore out of Brazil, anchors Syracuse in the paint and is assisted by senior forward Kris Joseph, who leads the team in scoring at just under 14 per game, and senior guard Scoop Jardine, who seems to have been at Syracuse for 50 years. The ‘Cuse lost in the semi-finals of the Big East tournament to fellow East Region member Cincinnati, but looks to bounce back in the Big Dance.
However, we like to keep it upbeat here at TWTW, so this week’s post was written with this R&B classic in mind.
In many ways, this was a weekend to forget, as eight members of the top twenty lost, several to unranked opponents. As disheartening as that might be, it’s crucial to remember the important truth of the matter, to keep things in perspective.
One team that no one should be overlooking at this point is the Clemson Tigers- In consecutive weeks, they’ve beaten a Florida State team who took Oklahoma to the wire and yesterday made an undefeated Virginia Tech look sloppy. While you can argue that the ACC as a conference is not the strongest in the country, something has gotten into Dabo Sweeny and his team is playing accordingly. Currently, they’re sitting at #8 in both polls, but with some head to head matchups between the teams above them and only a game against South Carolina during the rest of the season, don’t be surprised if the Tigers aren’t in the national title conversation.
Time for the stroll through the week’s absurdity in college football… this week’s soundtrack is inspired by a conversation with a colleague and the Stomping in the ‘Shoe- Enjoy the Stone Foxes.
The big game of the week, according to the folks at the four letter network, was Saturday Night’s matchup between LSU and West By God Virginia. When the smoke had cleared (not from burning couches, ironically), all we knew was how good the Tigers are, particularly on defense. That’s not a commentary on their O- it’s great to see Princeton HS star Spencer Ware excel- but the fact of the matter is that the LSU defense is the best in college football. In today’s poll has Les Miles’ team at the top, and given their victories over ranked teams (Oregon, Mississippi State, WVa), I can’t say that I disagree. You want to be the man? Beat the man… and LSU has done just that.
Those who might be wondering how LSU manages to both recruit top athletes AND to keep them motivated may have found an answer on Saturday night- I’m pretty sure that’s a benefit, although I will withhold judgement on if it’s improper (mostly ’cause I’m jealous). Read More
Well, after a loss there really is only one choice for this week’s soundtrack… Just be thankful I didn’t go all Broadway on you. I know that there were exciting things on the field to talk about, but the big story brings us to…
This week in EXPAND-A-PALOOZA: Well, well, well- Saturday awoke to the ACC getting their big boy pants on, and Sunday it became official- Pitt and Syracuse would be joining the conference in all sports. This was a surprising move, since the ACC has been relatively quiet throughout this process, although last week the powers that be agreed to raise the conference buyout to $20 million (from $12-$14 mil). While it looks proactive in many ways, it’s got to be influenced by rumors that the SEC was looking to poach several schools (FSU/Clemson) from the conference. The addition of Pitt and Syracuse also effectively block the B1G; these programs were always in the minds of those who believed that B1G Commish Jim Delaney was looking to connect with the NY media market- that ship may have now sailed. As a reminder, the B1G is constrained, in a good way from my perspective, by the belief that the conference’s affiliations should transcend television dollars or “great matchups”, and include schools that are parts of the CIC or AAU to share research revenue opportunities.
Other rumors today are that TBPU, OU, UT, and TTU would head to the PAC-16 and be in a western division with Utah, Colorado, and the two Arizona schools. To solve the problem of “not playing in California” for recruiting purposes, the conference would move to a “pod” system that would have teams playing three other schools every year, and then two schools from the other two pods on a rotating basis. Yeah, it’s that complicated. Be aware, though, that UT folks were just in LA for the UCLA game (more later), and that UT and OU have board of regents meetings called for Monday, with Texas having “Conference Alignment” on the agenda.
Elsewheres, UConn has also been rumored to head to the ACC (holy cow, is that going to be a basketball powerhouse conference), while WVa is rumored to have submitted it’s petition to be the SEC’s #14. Where does that leave the B1G? Notre Dame/Rutgers/Mizzou are supposedly the next targets… although the CIC/AAU thing is still a strong draw for some who are connected to Longhorn Nation.
Oh, and if the insiders at a certain Northwestern message board are to be believed, ESPN is at the heart of this. Anyone else curious how media conglomerates became involved in the actions of institutions of higher education? And you thought the “coverage” of B1G sports by the four letter network had an agenda now… what do you think will happen when three of the four super-conferences have deals with Bristol’s network. Now THAT’s something congress should look into, if you ask me- particularly given the fact that the organization that was created to monitor and guide these matters is pretty much powerless on top of other issues.
Wrapping up our look across the shootyhoops landscape, with Ohio State’s East Region. Don’t forget to get your picks in for tBBCBC before tip-off tomorrow- we’ve also linked to our “Impressions” of some of these teams from earlier in the year.
This is my worst nightmare.
A bit of a confession… I was a North Carolina fan as a kid (not living in Ohio), and loved Jordan, Perkins, Worthy, and Dean Smith basketball. Then, to make things worse, I did a grad degree in Lexington and worked with the athletic tutoring program during the Pitino/Mashburn era… yup, I was around for “The Shot“. Add to that some family in West Virginia (it’s all relative), a six year stint in Seattle, and the fact that I’ve finally come to my senses and follow Ohio State full time and this year’s East Region is a personal history of my career as a fan.
In addition to that, it’s got to be the most difficult region in recent memory. We talked about this in this week’s tBBC Radio Hour, but I’ve got to agree with Jeff Rapp’s assessment that this one is “loaded up”:
Yeah, it’s a tough region. But I’m a tough guy, so here’s what you need to know…
Once again, it’s time for a quick tour de farce around the week in college football. You know, in case you don’t have ESPN and this is the only website you read (as it should be). Today’s musical accompaniment: This amazing cover. Good luck getting it out of your head during the TPS meeting.
James Madison, welcome to the BCS championship game! Wait, you have to do something more than beat Virginia Tech? Since when?
Quick comment on the Miami game- I like Randy Shannon, and gained a lot of respect for Jacory Harris as a person during the game (as a QB? Nope). Just thought I’d put that out there, since there seems to be a conspicuous absence of the Miami fans that were so prevalent last week in our little corner of the interwebs.
So, the ACC is back to being a basketball conference, right? This week, all of their ranked squadrons went down, including the JMU upset mentioned earlier and The “Rambling Wreck” falling to a team that only scored three points in their loss to North Dakota State. You want to fix the BCS? One could argue for taking away the ACC’s automatic bid and making them split it with the Big lEast, and then make the MWC and WAC fight over the other one. Problem solved.
That running back that Michigan lets throw the ball is pretty good. Of course, their opponent wasn’t called Notre Ame for nothing… It would be interesting to see how the game would be different with Irish starting QB Crist in for the entire game, especially given what we’ve seen from the Wolverine defense.