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MBB : SU surges to No. 12 in AP poll; players mixed on double-bye possibility in Big East tournament

first_imgOn the strength of two road victories over Top 25 conference opponents, Syracuse moved up five spots to No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll released Monday.The Orange earned arguably its two most impressive road victories of the season this week — a 69-64 win over then-No. 15 Villanova on Monday and a 58-51 triumph at then-No. 11 Georgetown on Saturday.‘It was great,’ SU point guard Scoop Jardine said Monday of the two wins. ‘It was definitely two teams that we owe. We went down there, we played in front of a large crowd, we stuck together, and we continued that winning streak.’The move up the ladder in the polls comes as another heavy swing in a recent trend of swings for SU.Two weeks ago, the Orange was seemingly in disarray and in free-fall mode after losing two straight and six of eight overall in Big East play. SU stood at 7-6 in the conference at that point, and in two weeks the squad moved from the No. 3 spot in the rankings all the way down to No. 17.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut Syracuse regained its confidence after a home win over West Virginia and a subsequent home victory over a scrappy Rutgers team that pushed SU to overtime.‘We had a tough game here against Rutgers,’ Jardine said before practice Monday. ‘We found out who we were as a team. We really almost lost — and could have lost — that game, but we won because we stayed together.’And after the two road victories last week, the Orange is again near the Top 10. To SU head coach Jim Boeheim, any doubts about his team that lingered two weeks ago are now resolved.‘Three weeks ago, there were a lot of questions being asked,’ Boeheim said. ‘I think these guys have answered those questions.’The rest of the Big East continues to represent the conference well in the polls, too. In the latest AP poll, eight Big East teams dot the top 20. Pittsburgh is the highest-ranked Big East team, as the Panthers are tied for fourth with Duke. Villanova is the lowest at No. 19. Between those are Notre Dame (No. 8), Louisville (No. 11), Syracuse (No. 12), St. John’s (No. 15), Connecticut (No. 16) and Georgetown (No. 17).SU has no preference on double-byeBrandon Triche was on the court last year when Syracuse was supposed to be the benefactor of a double-bye in the Big East tournament.But what happened was anything but beneficial.SU lost its first game off the double-bye, falling 91-84 to Georgetown in the quarterfinals. It also lost one of its key players, senior forward Arinze Onuaku, in the process.‘Last year we got it, and we lost the first game,’ Triche said. ‘So the double-bye, it’s good for you. But again, you’re going to be playing a good team, especially in the Big East. … It doesn’t really mean a lot. Because again, playing in the Big East, you can lose to any team.’Triche’s sentiments prevail through most of the players as the team starts to prep for the Big East tournament that starts on March 8. Depending on what happens this weekend, SU will either play its first game of the tournament on March 9 or March 10.A win against DePaul would be the easy path for SU to move into the top four of the conference, a spot where it would earn the double-bye. A win would mean the Orange would need one loss from St. John’s in its final two games to surpass the Red Storm because SU holds the tiebreaker between the two teams due to its head-to-head win at Madison Square Garden.Syracuse could also earn a double-bye if it wins one game and Louisville loses its last two games — but that’s less plausible.But to Triche and the rest of SU, the glaring numbers of the double-bye stick out. Notably, since the Big East implemented double-byes two years ago, the top four teams are just 7-6 in the tournament. Three of the four top seeds lost their first game last season.‘I feel like it’s great if we get a double-bye,’ SU forward James Southerland said. ‘But we also have to stay focused. … The double-bye could help us, but I don’t want it to hurt us.’[email protected] Published on February 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img

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