When the new polls come out tomorrow afternoon, SU will almost certainly be ranked in the top ten in the Coaches poll (perhaps not the AP poll quite yet). Purdue and Notre Dame both lost their last game, giving us exactly the opening to move from an 11th place tie to alone at #10. Georgetown also lost that brutal game at home to Pitt, but I doubt they will drop below us considering what they did to UConn — and that Pitt will be the new unanimous #1 team in America in both polls.
Pitt moving to #1 is the point of this post. Some fan/blogger reaction to the prospect of Syracuse landing a spot in the national top ten has been met with skepticism. Is this team really that good? folks ask. Isn’t it a bit of a stretch to say we’re legitimately top ten material? Yes we’re pretty good, but lets not kid ourselves.
I completely disagree with those doubts, and here’s why: North Carolina just lost at home to an unranked Boston College, which is why Pitt will be #1 on Monday. Lost at home! My point? Other teams are not as good as Syracuse fans think they are. Other teams are just as flawed as we are. No one is sitting at some towering height way beyond our level. The top ten is not a lofty list of elite, unassailable teams. I grant you, Syracuse does not look like the Celtics out on the court, but neither does anyone else. Every team has their area of weakness, their boneheaded plays, their letdowns at key moments. Oklahoma lost at home to an unranked team earlier this week. In the top ten, UConn, Georgetown, UCLA, and Duke have all looked like shit at least once already this year. Today UNC couldn’t buy a bucket or play competent defense. Heck, next week the entire SEC might have zero ranked teams. Above us, only Wake Forest and Pitt have handled all comers. Pitt will be #1.
Do you know who Pitt is? Pitt is the exact same team — with the exact same set of key players — that last year’s weakened SU team handled for 99% of the game, until Paul Harris’ inexplicable turnover under the basket in the closing seconds. That’s who Pitt is, and those dudes will be the #1 team in the country tomorrow. I’m not disputing their ranking or their stature. What I’m saying is that SU is certainly within striking distance of that Pitt team, which means we belong in the top ten as much as anyone else.