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The Orange struggled early in the season, winning by only single digits against weak opponents like William & Mary, Michigan and Iona.
Boeheim was uncomfortable with Syracuse's high ranking to begin the season, saying that his year's squad of players, which included four rookies, hadn't proven anything.
But Boeheim knew the kind of talent that was on the roster, and the Orange finally showed it, beating North Carolina State and Michigan State in consecutive games during a non-conference tournament. Syracuse has kept winning and has beaten Big East opponents by more than 11 points per game.
Still, this is a team that can get even better. The Orange have gotten virtually zero production from their centers after having that position be one of their strong points last year.
This year's team has more depth than any recent Orange team, but that's unlikely to last with Boeheim expected to shorten the rotation to seven or eight players later in the season.
Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is a given at this point. But the Orange don't want to stop there—they have aspirations of winning the whole thing. To do that they'll need more consistent player from everyone on their roster, especially Fab Melo. Most teams don't have the size to give Syracuse any trouble, but that will change as the Orange go deeper into the tournament.
It's not fair to put Syracuse's championship hopes on the shoulders of two rookie centers, but it doesn't look like there's much of an alternative. The Orange fell in the third round last season because they didn't have Onuaku at center, and that'll happen again if Melo and Keita don't show up to play.