With March Madness rapidly approaching, the Orange are poised to make a deep run in the tournament. They are currently ranked eighth in the nation with a 21–4 record and have the players needed to win a national championship.
Syracuse’s roster is a fantastic mix of young and veteran players. The Orangemen have enjoyed large contributions by upperclassmen, Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, and James Southerland. While underclassmen like Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas have been able to contribute in majors way as well. Carter-Williams leads the team in assists and Christmas leads them in blocked shots.
James Southerland’s insertion back into the starting lineup on Feb. 10 has given the Orangemen a major boost in their offensive production. He was held out of six games by Syracuse University for academic reasons, which resulted in a pair of losses.
Southerland is averaging 13.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG this season, and leads the team in 3-pointers made. But he has a major impact on the defensive side of the floor as well. Southerland’s length (he’s 6 feet 8 inches) really aids the 2–3 zone defense that Jim Boeheim likes to run. His large arm span allows him to congest the offense’s passing lanes.
Brandon Triche and C.J. Fair also play key offensive roles on the team, they rank one-two on the team in points per game. The two players have a combined seven years playing in Boeheim’s system and are two of the team’s main leaders.
Without a standout team this year, there is an immense amount of parity in college basketball. There are several teams that have a viable chance at winning it all. Indiana, Michigan, Miami, and Duke are all having great seasons and are more than capable of making a deep run in March. But as long as Syracuse can stay healthy it poses a major threat to any opponent, and has an excellent chance at cutting down the nets this year.
Chris Hunt is a sports writer who resides in Charlotte, N.C.
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