Undefeated Syracuse Falls to Notre Dame; Week in Review
I just had to say it, didn’t I? This past Wednesday, I wrote this: “With the matchups [Syracuse and Murray State] have this week, both are expected to carry that perfect record into next week.” Just had to say it. In a complete domination of a game, the Fighting Irish ended Syracuse’s bid for a perfect record with a 67-58 dismantling of the Orangemen. The final score makes it look closer than it really was. To the unhinged delight of the only Notre Dame fan I know, this game was over early.
Every team is entitled to an “off game”; this was Syracuse’s. How they play after this embarrassing loss will determine if they are Final Four material, or if they are another case of lost potential. I am banking on the latter.
Syracuse can take comfort in the fact that they were not the only Top 10 team to lose in the past week. Here are the Points of Interest from this past week:
- Kentucky (19-1) now moves into the top spot atop the Associated Press poll. Their only loss came on December 10th, to Indiana, 73-72
- Baylor lost in embarrassing fashion to their conference rivals Kansas last Monday, 92-74. The loss drops the Bears from #3 to #6. Kansas moves up two spots to #5.
- Duke lost on a buzzer-beating three by Florida State‘s Michael Snare, 76-73, Saturday afternoon. Snare finished the first half in the exact same fashion, silencing the crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke falls to #8 in the AP Poll. Florida State enters the rankings after beating UNC and Duke in consecutive weeks. They now sit atop the ACC with Duke and NC State at 4-1.
- Michigan State lost to their cross-state rivals Michigan on Tuesday, 60-69, dropping them to #10.
- Connecticut lost twice this past week; first on Wednesday to Cincinnati (70-67), then on Saturday to Tennessee (60-57). The Huskies drop to #24 from #13 in the AP Poll.
- Murray State remains undefeated and has now matched Syracuse’s 20 consecutive wins. The Racers are now the only undefeated team in Division I. They should remain that way until next week, with their only matchup this week coming against Eastern Illinois. But then again, I said that about the Orange last week too.
Upcoming Games of Interest:
- Ohio State (#4) hosts Michigan (#20); tip-off is Sunday, 1PM EST.
- North Carolina (#7) hosts unranked-but-leading-the-ACC NC State; Thursday, 7PM EST.
- Remember when Pittsburgh used to be ranked? The 11-9 Pitt Panthers take their mediocre show home to host #9 Georgetown; tip is Saturday, 4PM EST.
- Florida (#14) hosts Mississippi State (#18) on Saturday, in what could be a turning point for both teams. Tip is 1:30PM EST.
- Speaking of turning points, #16 Indiana travels to Wisconsin (#25), in what the Badgers hope will be a solid mark in their Madness resumé. Tip is Thursday, 9PM EST.
- Virginia (#19), in their bid to rise to the top of the ACC, drive down to NC State on Saturday, hoping to topple the upstart Wolfpack from the top of the conference. Tip is 8PM EST.
- Connecticut (#24) travels to play suddenly-relevant Notre Dame. Tip is Sunday, 1PM EST.
One loss and your season can come crumbling down; one off-day; one buzzer-beating shot; one unlucky bounce… and it’s all over until next year. Every team that has ever lost in March Madness knows this pain all too well. Syracuse now knows that pain. It’s what I love about college basketball. To borrow a phrase: On any given day, anyone can win.
… and that’s the last word.