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Nunes::44 - 3/25/08

This is how Troy still fills out his brackets.
It is Tuesday, which means it is once again time to pierce the darkness of knowledge with Sean over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician. Lots ‘o basketball on the docket today so enjoy the latest collaboration between two Cinderellas in the world of SU blogs.

1. Orange::44: Syracuse is taking on Massachusetts today for a trip to New York. Are they going to the semifinals, or will UMass again beat Syracuse on their home court?

Nunes: I don't see how SU can lose this one. You've got the vengeance factor. Not only did UMass beat us the first time but they beat us at home and the dropped 107 on us. No way we let that slide now. We're a better team than we were back then and I think even the crowd is going to want this win badly as well. The word on the street is that ticket sales are strong so we should have a crowd not too far off from what it was when we first played them. Assuming the crowd is fairly large, it will be a nice lesson about SU fans and their resilience rooting for the team when needed.

I think it means something to this team to get back to NY at least and prove that they were worth the trouble of at least considering on Selection Sunday. An NIT championship would actually set a great tone for next year but whatever experience the teams gets in the NIT is going to be good in the long run.

2. Orange::44: Syracuse looked bad against Robert Morris, but good against Maryland. What does that say about the team, if anything?

Nunes: I don't know if it says more about them or more about the opponents? Both this year and last, the opening round was against a small school who wanted to prove something to the nation and to the major conferences. Both times they played well and almost pulled off the upsets. Robert Morris got what they needed out of that game, an impressive performance against a major program. Syracuse got what it needed, a punch in the mouth that they proved they could recover from.

That win proved to the team and to the fans that SU could do some damage and I think both were elevated for the Maryland game. In retrospect, it was the perfect opponent for them...a fellow major program that didn't have the motivation or advantages that the Orange were getting in the Dome.

3. Orange::44: Speaking of Maryland, how good was that game?

Nunes: I don't quite know if it's ready to go down as "Jonny's Game" or anything but that was definitely what we'll all remember about. Not quite Willis Reed returning in the Finals but Jonny put to bed any doubts about his tenacity and desire to win for sure.

It's always great to see the Orange stick with it in a close, back-and-forth game and come out on top. Not to mention the fact that the decisive 9-0 run was a full team effort. It was like the entire season finally clicked in those moments. The balance of this team in terms of contribution hasn't truly been appreciated, I don't think. I don't remember the last team that got such production from all five starters on a consistent basis.

Since it was in the NIT, we probably won't put it down in the annals, but it was certainly a game we can look back on when we look at this season and talk about the progress this team made.

4. Orange::44: The Syracuse ladies were a one and done. Disappointed, or is that just how it goes for a team trying to build a solid future?

Nunes: Certainly, anytime you lose in the tournament it's disappointing. Be it in the first round or in the Finals. But I think our faith in the future of the program numbed the pain slightly. Quentin Hillsman is the kind of guy you'd want to follow into battle and if he says we're going to be back, I believe him. Doesn't hurt that he's got a great recruit coming in and tons of returning talent. I don't know if we're ready to contend with UConn and Rutgers for the Big East crown yet but expect to see Syracuse back in the tourney picture very soon.

And expect to get that first NCAA Tourney win soon as well.

5. Orange::44: Are you buying your tickets for the Lacrosse Final Four yet?

Nunes: No but I should be. There's an interesting discussion hovering over this season about parity. I agree that the lacrosse world is opening up and new teams are cracking the rankings and giving the old stalwarts from trouble. But I just don't think we can honestly say there is parity in college lacrosse until we see it in the Final Four. I'm not talking about one new team or even two up against Virginia, Duke, Hopkins or Syracuse. I'm talking about a Final Four that consists of Notre Dame, Providence, Hobart and Denver.

That said, there's no reason to think this isn't going to be another great season, great tournament and great Final Four. I have full expectations that Syracuse will be there at this point. If for no other reason than that it's been too long...

6. Orange::44: Is the Big East as good of a basketball conference as we think it is, or when it comes down to it, are we all just conference homers?

Nunes: Well yes to both. Everyone's a conference homer and you can always use the stats to craft an argument as to why we're better than the next one.

I heard a commentator once say that the problem with the Big East was that it's lower half was dragging down it's top half. That if we could get rid of the lower half, the Big East would be unstoppable. I took a look at the standings that day and I remember seeing that all except for three teams in the conference had winning records. Futhermore, 3/4 of the teams in the conference were still alive for the NCAA Tournament and this was February.

It was then that I realize two things. #1, this radio commentator is a jackass. #2, what we're really talking about its three or four teams that hold us down. Out of sixteen. That's pretty f'in good. So really, imagine if the conference dropped South Florida, Rutgers and St. John's and how solid from top to bottom we would be? Even with them I'm still willing to say we're pretty good. 8 teams in the tourney. 3 teams in the Sweet 16. Fight it all you like, the Big East is damn good.

7. Orange::44: Finally, how's that bracket looking on your end?

Nunes: Well, I've got a bad case of the Long Term Looking. In the short term, it doesn't look too good. I also was a little too cocky with the Big East teams. I had Pittsburgh still alive, I had Marquette in the Elite 8, I had Notre Dame still cookin'. I also had Vanderbilt still dancing, so that didn't work out well. But I do have 6 of 8 Elite 8 teams still alive and all of my Final Four picks are still there (Louisville, Wisconsin, Memphis, UCLA), so I have hope. It just doesn't read like I do on the brackets right now...
Editor’s Note: This is another installment in the ongoing collaboration between Orange::44 and Nunes/Magician. Every other Tuesday Nunes::44 will appear here, while the following week Orange::44/Magician will appear on his site. Until then, enjoy Nunes/Magician articles and stay tuned to Orange::44 for complete postgame coverage from every Syracuse game.

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2 Responses to “Nunes::44 - 3/25/08”

  1. # Blogger MariusJanulisForThree

    Please disregard my answer to #1  

  2. # Blogger Brian Harrison


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