The Syracuse Orange basketball team may be the biggest underdog in the history of No. 1 teams in the NCAA. This season, ESPN and SI pundits have taken to bashing Syracuse's schedule, depth, style and even the coach.
And this was all after the media was centered around Syracuse for the still-confusing Bernie Fine scandal that continues to play out.
Needless to say, Syracuse fans have been attempting to rationalize the continual berating of their team with the history argument and even blaming their own pessimistic view, but it is hard not to hate the mainstream media when they "troll" and call Orange Nation "vile and disgusting" it sets up tension.
Speaking from experience, of course media members of all kinds try to be both bold yet accurate as a way to garner reads, listen, downloads, etc. Furthermore, Jim Boeheim will be the first to tell you that what the media says does not matter.
But for the sake of the program and fans, Boeheim and the Orange need to capture a title this year.
The Orange have dominated opponents this year with their aggressive defense and multitude of weapons from their deep rotation. Several long-time fans say this is the best team they have ever seen. Boeheim says this is the deepest team he has ever had. Even Dick Vitale is jumping on the Orange bandwagon due to the unique setup of this team.
The thing is, no matter what happens in the first 30+ games, all that anyone remembers is a team's tournament performance. To be frank, Syracuse has not done well when there were high expectations.
Another may be the lack of a NBA lottery pick or Kemba Walker-style player who carries the team game in and game out. The Orange instead opt for having four or five players with that potential who contribute to the team.
The Orange are just playing basketball like the team sport it was designed to be. Call it old school, but guess what? The Orange are coached by the fourth (soon to be third) winningest coach in NCAA history.
The only comparison I can find to this team is the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA during their 2000's run. The Spurs played a team game with multiple superstars and won titles year after year while the media focused on Kobe, Shaq, and even the early years of LeBron.
The Spurs would validate these regular season wins with postseason rings. That is what Syracuse must do this year. The way the Orange are playing will never be the "sexiest" but it can provide championships.
With the year that Syracuse has had, no one would be surprised if Syracuse did not win the National Championship. But the Orange need to validate themselves as a program.
Boeheim needs to show that he and this team are bigger than a scandal. The team needs to show that leaving egos at the door works and wins for future recruits so the program can continue to thrive. The fans need to see a championship in order to shake the idea that the Orange can never win as the favorite.
Overall, this season has become a program defining one for Syracuse. The best part about it? Boeheim and the Orange are holding the pen.