The illustrious NCAA March Madness tournament is in full swing, and it is already being heralded as the most chaotic tournament in college basketball history. Amongst the chaos, the Syracuse Orangemen are sitting pretty in the Sweet Sixteen. This has been a peculiar year for The Orange as they have had a season filled with peaks and valleys. They started the year off strong by winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, then fell flat during Jim Boeheim’s suspension by going 4-5 with some bad losses to St. John’s and Georgetown. When Boeheim returned, they got hot winning 8 of their next nine games which included an impressive win over Duke and Notre Dame. Unfortunately, after that run they ended the regular season with four tough losses and was also one and done in the ACC Tournament. With all these variables considered, Syracuse was still able to enter the NCAA Tournament as a 10 seed, their lowest ever. Ratings and statistics aside, once a team is in the tournament all bets are off and it truly is survive and advance.
For those who have not been paying attention to this tournament, The Orange came hot out of the gates against 7th seeded Dayton, beating them by a wide margin of 70-51. Freshman talent was the story of that game as Malachi Richardson scored 21 points and Tyler Lydon added 14 points to the team’s total. This game was a huge statement to those who claimed Syracuse did not deserve to be in the tournament.
According to Coach Jim Boeheim, those who thought Syracuse was undeserving of a tournament bid “doesn’t know anything about basketball.” Those doubters must now eat those words as The Orangemen went on to crush the would-be Cinderellas, Middle Tennessee State, to the tune of 75-50. Michael Gbinije continues his 34 game streak of double digit points in a game in this dominating victory.
With those wins, Syracuse is headed to Chicago to play in the famed Sweet Sixteen. The Sweet Sixteen is a huge milestone for any school, and just because it is ‘Cuse’s 22nd appearance does not make it any less special. The NCAA Tournament is beneficial in more ways than one would expect. During March Madness, schools that find themselves doing well find peace within chaos. The tournament brings in an insane amount of money and pandemonium, but it also brings unity amongst communities. Duke Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski was right (surprising for a Duke University representative, I know) when he said, “for one month college basketball unites the whole country” during an interview before his teams contest against Yale. Coach K presents an interesting phenomenon that is true for more than just March Madness. When your school is playing on TV you can comfortably watch that game with anyone affiliated with your school, especially so for Syracuse. The reason for this phenomenon is because college basketball provides a unique platform in which one establishes lasting memories; ask any Cuse Alum where they were when Tyler Ennis made that game winner against Pitt and I’m sure they’ll have an answer for you. College basketball also gives students a unique nationalistic pride, particularly when you are amongst the top 16 teams in the nation.
As students, it is nice to know that those players are just like you: they take classes and eat questionable dining hall food just like you and those facts allow you to make this bond between you and the team. With all this being stated relish the 2015-2016 Syracuse Men’s basketball team and their peculiar run in this year’s NCAA Tournament because you never know when they’ll be back. (Spoiler it’ll be in 2017). Tune in for Syracuse’s match against Gonzaga this Friday at 9:40pm on CBS.