Could No. 1 Syracuse Benefit From a Loss?
Don't go crazy on me, based solely on the headline of this entry.
Of course, no team wants to lose any game they play - cue former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards, "You play to win the game."
Although I did not attend, Syracuse University, I have been a Orange fan for much of my life. Growing up in the Capital District, they were and still are, the major college basketball team to root for in this area.
The first team I remember rooting for was led by Lawrence Moten in the early 1990s. The night they won the national title, in 2003, was personally one of my greatest nights, as a sports fans and the six-overtime victory over Connecticut was possibly one of the greatest games I've watched from beginning to end.
My favorite player ever is probably Gerry McNamara and I attended the East Regional, here in Albany, when the Orange advanced to the 2003 Final Four. Hey, as I look down I'm even wearing a Orange & Grey striped rugby shirt. I think I've proved that I'm a Syracuse fan.
I still think that this year's team, which set a school record by starting the season 20-0, could benefit from a loss. Yes, a loss.
Listen to my reasoning before you revoke my fanship.
College basketball is a different type of game. This isn't like the NFL, where New England tried to run the table in 2007, and just a few years earlier, Indianapolis was criticized for going all out for 16-0. This isn't like college football, where you have to run the table, to get to the national title game. In college basketball, you lose games and you learn from them.
Can you remember the last team to run the table in the regular season?
It was a 1991 UNLV team that went 30-0, but ended up losing in the Final Four to Duke.
The last team to run the table to a title?
You'd have to go back to 1976, when Indiana finished a perfect 27-0. Only seven teams (UCLA x4, North Carolina, San Francisco) have done it and there is a reason why -- it's hard.
This team is incredibly deep, but I don't think even Syracuse fans would argue that it's not the most talented team in America.
Kris Joseph isn't your typical star player. Fab Melo has had a terrific jump, as a sophomore, but he's not yet one of the dominant big men in the country. Still, the Orange can legitimately go 10 players deep and Dion Waiters is the best sixth man in the country.
If Syracuse wins Saturday, at Notre Dame, they will set a new record for best start by a Big East team. I'll be rooting for them and have been all season (minus the game against the University at Albany, which i covered).
I still think a loss would benefit this team in the long run, because when the calendar hits March and it's one-and-done, you want to know how you'll bounce back from being down.
If Syracuse ran the table in the regular season, in this day and age, in a conference as rugged as the Big East (not as brutal as in year's past) that would certainly be an accomplishment.
If the ultimate goal is to win a national championship, which I think this team is capable of, than you don't want your first bad game to end the season.