ATB: Is Syracuse the Best Team in America?Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2009
Light Night. We’re more or less heading into Finals Week across the nation, and aside from a few interesting games here and there around the country, ATBs are going to be fairly light for a while. There’s no exams at RTC, though, so we’ll continue to keep you updated even as you head to the eggnog bowl for the third time this evening… but we’re not counting.
Is Syracuse the Best Team in America? Syracuse 85, Florida 73. It’s a fair question. Of the top 6-8 teams, all of whom are unbeaten so far this season, does any team have as impressive of a resume as double-digit wins over Cal, UNC and now Florida? Doubtful. And so long as the Cuse is getting unbelievable efficiency at the offensive end (#1 in eFG% and two-point FG%), it’s unlikely that they’re going to lose many games this year. We talked about it back at the CvC, but there seems to be something about this Orange team — that little something extra — that makes them special, and maybe that’s why we continue to see Jim Boeheim smiling so much these days. Tonight Syracuse had two players with dub-dubs in Rick Jackson (21/11) and Wesley Johnson (17/10) to withstand the Florida runs keyed by some deep three-point shooting in timely spots (12-30). Kenny Boynton (20/7 assts) and Erving Walker (14/6 assts) had nice games for the Gators, but the starting UF frontcourt was virtually nonexistent on offense (18 pts) and downright bad on defense (outrebounded by twelve), which is something Billy Donovan’s team is going to face as a problem all season. Syracuse moves on to another trio of easy home games, but a date at rising Seton Hall on 12/29 looms as another big test for Jim Boeheim’s team, who we believe may just be the best team in America right now.
SEC/Big East Invitational. The Invitational ended at 2-2, with two good games and two terrible games over the two nights. If this thing ever wants to be taken seriously, the organizers really need to sack up and get a 10-12 team event over two or three nights. What’s the problem with that format?
- Mississippi State 76, DePaul 54. This was a terrible mismatching of teams, and we’re wondering what was going through the heads of the people who chose this game as a featured matchup between conferences, but MSU dominated DePaul from the opening tip tonight and never let up throughout. The Blue Demons were held to 28% shooting by the staunch MSU defense, and in a weird coincidence, all three of DePaul’s losses have come at the hands of SEC teams so far this year (ed. note: there will be more). Jarvis Varnado had 12/14, while four other Bulldogs reached double figures in the blowout win.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #14 Michigan State 88, Oakland 57. Here’s all you need to know about this game. MSU held Oakland’s Johnathan Jones to a mere two assists. JJ was only the nation’s leading assist leader last season at 8.1 per game (and coming into tonight at 6.0 APG this year), and the MSU defense completely shut him down. The Spartans got 19/12 from Draymond Green, and Kalin Lucas chipped in with 19/4 assts in an effort that Tom Izzo had to be pleased with tonight. Oakland’s Keith Benson had 21/11 in the losing effort.
- #19 Cincinnati 63, Miami (OH) 59. Someone explain how Miami can take Kentucky and Cincy to the wire, yet lose to Towson and Louisiana Tech? The interesting thing about this game is that UC’s Lance Stephenson had his best game of his young career with 17/8/3 assts/3 stls. Stephenson is exhibiting a well-rounded game during his last couple, and that means nothing good for the rest of the Big East if he starts to take off.
- Colorado State 77, Colorado 62. Cory Higgins had a miserable evening, shooting 1-10 and 0-4 from deep, finishing with 11 points, a full ten points under his average. CSU got a key Mountain West victory over a Big 12 team for the first time this season, as Travis Franklin had 22/10 in the victory.