I don’t know the first thing about the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, the team Syracuse is playing tonight in the Dome, and I won’t pretend to. Apparently they’re from the Detroit, Michigan, version of Oakland, not the California version. Also, they play in something called the “Summit League”. I like to consider myself a pretty big college basketball fan, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of the Summit League. On the face of it, Oakland sounds like a classic early-season creampuff for the Orange.
Here’s the problem: the Golden Grizzlies just beat Oregon in their own house. Que?? I know what you’re thinking, well, it’s just the Oregon Ducks — they’re one of those Pac-10 teams that you never know if they’re any good or not. What does that win really mean? I hear you, and I can’t answer for sure, because I don’t know how good Oregon is this year. But I can tell that Oregon is not in the midst of a down-swing, because they were in the NCAA Tournament last year. Meaning, as recently as March, Oregon was a shit-ton better than SU was.
So, what we’re looking at here is a classic trap game: Florida is coming up on Monday, we just finished surviving a game against a mid-major with a lot more name recognition (Richmond), and a team with a name like the Oakland Golden Grizzlies screams out “creampuff!”. And it’s understandable to expect them to fulfill that role because this is the spot in the schedule for a classic Jim Boeheim creampuff. Heck, he probably thought he was getting one when he signed them up. But Oakland isn’t cooperating.
For the record, Oakland is 1-1 so far, with their loss coming to future SU opponent Cleveland State, an emerging mid-major that has made some noise in the past (at least compared to Oakland). This is the first time SU will have ever played either of these schools.