Your Syracuse Orange are the top college basketball team in the nation.
After an exhilirating Saturday which saw the Orange defeat then #16 Duke in an overtime thriller, the SU men have risen to the #1 ranking in the weekly Associated Press men??s college basketball poll. SU was a unanimous selection for the top spot, receiving all 65 first place votes to supplant former #1 Arizona. The Wildcats lost to California 60-58 on a last-second shot by Justin Cobbs later the same night. This is the third time in the last five years that SU has been ranked #1 by the AP, and they are the first team to receive a unanimous selection since Duke in 2010-11.
Syracuse is also ranked #1 in the USA Today coaches poll released Monday afternoon. Coach Jim Boeheim is a voter in that poll.
Of course Orange fans are still on a high after SU??s 91-89 overtime squeaker over the Blue Devils Saturday night. An on-campus record 35,446 packed the Carrier Dome to watch senior forward C.J. Fair score a career-high 28 points and lead his team to the win. Sophomore forward Jerami Grant added his own career-high 24 points, plus 12 rebounds, and freshman guard Tyler Ennis chipped in 14 points and 9 assists.
This is the first time SU has been ranked #1 since 2012. The Orange won??t have much time to celebrate their new ranking, however. Monday night they host former Big East rival Notre Dame, who moved to the ACC along with Syracuse and Pittsburgh this season. Tip time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and the game will be telecast on ESPN as part of their ??Big Monday?? series.
SU enters the game with a 21-0 record, the longest undefeated streak to start a season in school history. They are 8-0 in ACC play and have a half-game lead on Virginia in the conference standings.
Notre Dame is having a rough season, 12-10 overall but just 3-5 in conference play. They will be without star guard Jerian Grant, brother of Jerami, who left the team in December over academic issues.
However, the Orange also played the Fighting Irish during their run at the top in 2012. Unfortunately for SU, they lost to ND 67-58 during the first of two Fab Melo academic suspensions that season.
Arizona (21-1) and Syracuse, which had been 1-2 for the last eight weeks, switched places with the Wildcats dropping one slot to #2. Florida, Wichita State, the only other unbeaten in Division I, and San Diego State remained third through fifth and were followed by Villanova, Cincinnati, Kansas, Michigan State and Michigan.
No. 20 Virginia, No. 22 Connecticut and No. 23 Gonzaga returned to the rankings. They replaced Ohio State and Wisconsin, which both reached as high as No. 3 this season, and Massachusetts.
Duke moved up from 16th to 11th despite the loss to SU.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)