Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- With the Orange moving up to #1 in the college basketball polls this week, the questions were posed on our radio show “Does SU deserve the top ranking?” and “Is Syracuse really the best team in the country right now?” In my opinion, these are two different questions with two different answers.
As for the first, yes, I think Syracuse absolutely deserves the top ranking. The two teams above them lost over the weekend, SU has yet to lose, so the Orange should move up. That’s the way the polls generally work. I realize that Ohio State lost on the road without its best player – Jared Sullinger – who was out with injury. I realize the Buckeyes played a big-time opponent in Kansas, but it doesn’t change the fact that they still lost the game. The same thing holds true for Kentucky. I realize that the Wildcats lost at the buzzer, on the road, against a Top 25-caliber team. That, however, does not change the fact that they still lost a game. Syracuse has beaten every team on its schedule so far. Some of the opponents have been good (like Virginia Tech, Stanford, and Marshall) … one was really good (Florida) … and others have been overmatched (like Fordham, George Washington, Colgate, etc.) No matter the opponent, SU has taken care of business and therefore, the Orange deserves to be #1.
But is Syracuse truly the best team in the country right now? The truth is that we really don’t know for sure and it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that SU is definitely among the handful of best teams in the country and at this point in the season that’s all you can ask for. Ohio State may have the best player in the country. Kentucky may be the most athletic. North Carolina may have the most talent. Syracuse may be the deepest. The beauty of college basketball is that all of these programs will get the chance to show us in March who the best team really is. And when all of the dust settles, let’s just say I won’t be surprised if SU is the team that’s left standing.
This has the potential to be a very special season on the SU hill. The Orange appears to have all of the pieces in place: depth, talent, senior leadership, good guard play, an inside presence, quality defense, a Hall of Fame head coach, the list goes on and on. The last time SU got the #1 ranking two seasons ago, it lost that spot with a loss the very next week. My gut tells me that this season will be different.