Thursday, February 11, 2010

Orange On Their Way To Squeezing 1 Seed

Already in favor of expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams, Jim Boeheim could have something else to exult about, as his second-ranked Syracuse team is 24-1 and on their way to securing a No. 1 seed in this year's edition of March Madness. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

He has a list of accolades that few colleagues can match: Over 800 career wins, a national championship, a Who's Who of NBA superstars such as Carmelo Anthony and Jonny Flynn; not to mention an Olympic gold medal as an assistant coach for Team USA in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Then there's the statistic that no other college coach possesses, an unprecedented thirty-two 20 win seasons, all consecutive. So, what else does Jim Boeheim need to add to an already impressive resume, one that saw him inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Many college basketball analysts would argue that the 65-year-old Boeheim can retire today, and his legacy at Syracuse University would enable him to go down in history as one of the greatest and most talented people to grace a sideline on the hardwood. However, the legend of upstate New York isn't riding off into the sunset just yet. Boeheim's Orange team is in the midst of their best start in program history, a 24-1 record that has catapulted Syracuse to the second spot in both the AP and coaches' polls. Not bad for a team that lost its three best players (Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris) this past offseason.

After a 72-67 home win against UConn at the Carrier Dome last night, the Orange welcome Rick Pitino and Louisville into the Dome on Sunday with a No. 1 seed in next month's NCAA Tournament right within their reach. Led by Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson, who is a candidate for the National Player of the Year award, the Orange are one of the most complete teams in the country with their 2-3 zone featuring Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson up front. Throw in a starting backcourt that can shoot the lights out of any arena in senior Andy Rautins and freshman Brandon Triche, along with a bench led by Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine, and you could be looking at a team playing for another national title in Indianapolis.

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