Posted by MATT JONES
I began suspecting that Syracuse was overrated early in the season. When the Orange became one of the four remaining undefeated teams, some crowned Jim Boeheim's club as a Final Four contender, but I refused to give in.
Yes, the 'Cuse had been in the house with early season wins over Michigan State, Michigan and Georgia Tech, but it had also barely squeaked by in wins over William and Mary and Iona. The undefeated record confirmed that this was a team with talent, but the mediocrity seen often on the court showcased that with no Wesley Johnson on the roster, a legitimate contender it was not.
This initial suspicion has been confirmed over the course of Syracuse's recent three-game losing streak, culminating on Tuesday in a 90-68 loss to Seton Hall in the Carrier Dome that is as shocking a result as we have seen this year in college basketball. Boeheim's team was whipped from the very beginning, falling down by as many as 20 in the first half and never making a run that could even cause Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard to sweat a drop in the second. From the opening tip, Syracuse was unable to put the ball in the basket, but even more shockingly, defended as poorly as any game I can remember in the Boeheim era.
What type of Jim Boeheim team allows an opponent as dreadful as Seton Hall (8-12 overall, 2-6 in the Big East going into the game) to come into the Carrier Dome and shoot 54 percent for the game and 58 percent from the three point line? This Seton Hall team came into the game ranked 293rd in America in field goal percentage, yet the Orange found a way to make them seem as if they were carrying a starting five of Rick Mount, Craig Ehlo, Craig Hodges, J.J. Redick and the college version of Chris Jackson. Anyone can lose a game, but to do so by making a cellar dweller in the Big East look like a Championship contender ... well that takes a special type of atrocious performance.
We have seen some upsets this year that were head-scratchers. Anyone who has had the misfortune of watching an Auburn game is baffled at how the Tigers upset Florida State. And for an Illinois-Chicago team that is 0-8 in the Horizon League to have upset Bruce Weber's Illinois team is also beyond perplexing. But for Seton Hall to take a Syracuse team that just 10 days ago was undefeated, and destroy them in such a thorough, embarassing way, well that is downright shocking.
Boeheim will surely have the Orange playing better before the season is over, but remember this game come March. No team that is a legitimate national player loses a game like this, in a manner this humiliating. Mark Jan. 25 as the date that the 'Cuse was officially eliminated from Final Four contender status.