Syracuse is a Sweet 16 sleeper

first_imgThe little guys of March have all been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.Thanks for the memories, Stephen F. Austin, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas-Little Rock.In many ways, this postseason fiasco is all about the little guys. Their magic against the powerhouses never fails to appease college basketball fans’ morbid fascination with seeing their brackets crumble.And while this Sweet 16 features exactly zero real underdogs, there is one particularly intriguing team still hanging around.Of course we see you, Syracuse.The Orange racked up 13 losses on the season. This meant that Jim Boeheim’s not-so-star-studded team was on the bubble to even make the field of 68. However, after its self-imposed postseason ban just a year ago, ’Cuse squeezed its way into the tourney and now has officially completed its return to primetime.Because of Northern Iowa’s historic collapse against Texas A&M, Syracuse is really the last team remaining that truly feels like an enigma.Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Duke also finished with 10 or more losses this season, but these teams were grabbing headlines with regularity. The Wisconsin hype train was fairly calm this season after the Badgers’ postseason run a year ago, but Notre Dame and Duke always seem to find the limelight.Syracuse’s season was a different story.The Orange’s four-game skid in the middle of the season certainly didn’t help this group leap to the forefront of media attention, nor did the team’s losing five of its last six games leading up to the NCAA Tournament.Many fans likely saw the perennial powerhouse casually hanging out in the bottom right corner of the bracket and didn’t think much of it. Yet although Syracuse-Dayton appeared the definition of a tossup, the Orange clobbered the Flyers.Surely Boeheim’s team didn’t have the ability to compete with Michigan State in the second game. Well, the Spartans somehow lost by nine to a sneaky good Middle Tennessee bunch. This set up nicely for ‘Cuse, who wrecked the Cinderella team from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.Next up for Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson: Gonzaga. Gbinije and Richardson are Syracuse’s two leading scorers, but this team has flown so far under the radar that these names don’t really resonate like, say, Carmelo Anthony, Scoop Jardine or C.J Fair. The Bulldogs of Gonzaga cruised into the tournament as an 11-seed and simply dominated two quality teams in Seton Hall and Utah en route to the Sweet 16.While this may look like a friendly draw for the good folks from Spokane, the admonition from a completely neutral columnist at a student publication is very real. Proceed with caution. Syracuse does not have a tremendous amount of pressure heaped upon its shoulders. Its zone seemingly always gives opposing coaches headaches in March and its balanced scoring at the offensive end represents a well-rounded, versatile attack.The Carrier Dome, traditionally a cathedral of college basketball greatness, was seemingly just another gym this season. In fact, this middling ACC team was actually treated as such. ‘Cuse went .500 in conference play and looked perfectly average, yet these guys appear to be hitting stride at the perfect time.As a program, having storylines — or even a roster — begging for television exposure during December obviously gets you nowhere in March. ‘Cuse is a legitimately dangerous team that could manage to escape the Midwest region if this upward trajectory continues against a talented Gonzaga side.Josh Cohen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Cohen’s Corner,” runs Tuesdays.last_img read more

Novak Djokovic strengthens grip on No. 1; American Frances Tiafoe breaks into top 30 for first time

first_imgRoger Federer’s fourth-round exit to Tsitsipas at 2019’s first Grand Slam sees him slip three places to sixth in the world, with Alexander Zverev, Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson climbing above him.Tsitsipas’ reward for reaching the last four sees him move to 12th in the rankings, his personal best, while American Tiafoe, 21, has broken into the top 30 for the first time after rising nine spots.New Career-High Rankings for #NextGenATP Players12 @StefTsitsipas GRE 2028 @AlexdeMinaur AUS 1930 @FTiafoe USA 21118 Miomir Kecmanovic SRB 19124 @AlexeiPopyrin99 AUS 19182 Rudolf Molleker GER 18183 @W412Yosuke JPN 20194 @MikaelYmer SWE 20197 Jurij Rodionov AUT 19— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) January 28, 2019It is all change at the top of the WTA rankings with Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova taking the top two places from Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber. Osaka has a 740-point advantage over Kvitova after winning their duel in Saturday’s Australian final, the Japanese becoming the first player since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win her first two Grand Slams back-to-back.Halep drops to third after her fourth-round defeat to Serena Williams, who rises five places to 11th.Semifinalist Danielle Collins jumps 12 to a career-best 23, a fine reward for a stunning performance in Melbourne that included wins over Julia Goerges, Caroline Garcia and Kerber. Novak Djokovic strengthened his grip on the world No. 1 spot with his victory at the Australian Open, while breakout stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe earned career-high rankings.Djokovic cruised to a record seventh title in Melbourne with his straight-sets victory over Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final, a win that saw him extend his advantage over the Spaniard by 980 points.last_img read more