The Syracuse Orange passed the first contesting of the throne of being number one in the land. Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim's squad needed overtime and 35,446 fans in the Carrier Dome to edge out a highly capable Duke team Saturday night. That win took every bit of energy the team could muster.
Turning around to play Notre Dame would naturally be a let down. Most of the team struggled to score. Thankfully Trevor Cooney decided it was his night to take advantage of an Irish defense that seemed initially focused on stopping everyone but him. Cooney's 33 points carried the Orange to test one of life in rarified air.
As February begins the Orange is 22-0 with eight games remaining in the regular season. It's time to assess where this season is going. What will that final record be? Which game will be the last for Syracuse?
As much as I love this team undefeated is virtually impossible in a league as competitive as the ACC. A measure of success for many Orange teams is the number of future NBA players on the floor. The 1987 Final Four team had Coleman, Douglass and Seikaly. The 1996 team defied odds with John Wallace. The 2003 national title team had Carmelo and Hakim. Gerry has to be added despite never getting to the NBA. The 2013 Final Four team had CJ, MCW, Southerland, Jerami. This year there's CJ, Jerami and Ennis. The talent is there. But, still the opposition awaits.
By the end of the regular season Syracuse will lose on the road to Duke and Virginia finishing the regular season at 28-2. They will win the ACC tournament pushing the record to 31-2. They will advance to the Final Four, the record: 35-2.
The final weekend they will win the national championship finishing a school best 37-2 giving Jim Boeheim his overdue second national title.
Next up, Clemson Sunday night at the Dome.
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