As the new #1 team in the nation, Syracuse didn’t want Notre Dame to spoil their party again. In 2012, Syracuse was 20-0 and on top of the national rankings before a heartbreaking 68-57 loss to the Irish. On Monday night, the 61-55 win for the Orange not only kept them unbeaten for this season, but it also extended their best start in school history.
In the win, sophomore guard Trevor Cooney had a season high 33-points, coming off his previous high of 14 against Duke on Saturday. And although standout freshman Tyler Ennis only had 6 points in the game, he dished out 8 assists to his teammates. Now 22-0 on the season and 9-0 in the ACC, Syracuse will play Clemson next. The Tigers are 14-6 overall and 5-3 in the ACC.
Syracuse was able to nab the top spot this week after its huge 91-89 overtime win against Duke on Saturday, along with Arizona’s 60-58 loss to California. The loss was the Wildcats first on the season. Despite their loss, the Wildcats simply traded places with Syracuse, moving to the #2 spot behind the Orange. Arizona will look to bounce back against a 15-6 Oregon team at the McKale Center in Tucson.
The Florida Gators only furthered their claim as the #3 team in the nation with a 69-38 clobbering of Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies are only 12-9 on the season, but the 33-point loss was one of the worst deficits on the season. The #3 ranked Gators will play Alabama this week, and they are currently a 12 ½ point favorite.
The only other team in the country that remains undefeated aside from Syracuse is the 23-0 Wichita State Shockers. Typically known as a Cinderella team in March, the Shockers may not be getting as much love as other teams in the top 10 because of their relatively weak conference schedule. However, despite being ranked #4 in the AP Poll, USA Today has Wichita State ranked as #2 in the nation behind Syracuse. The Shockers are led by a core of seniors, including Cleanthony Early, who averages 16.2 points per game, and Chadrack Lufile who pulls down 5 rebounds per contest. Next up for Wichita State is Indiana State on Wednesday.
Kansas, who fell from #6 to #8 after their loss to Texas this weekend, still remains the top choice to win the Championship in April. They currently sit at 9/2 odds to win it all, despite having a 16-5 record. The Jayhawks will play Baylor on Tuesday, and they currently sit as 2-point favorites for that contest.
Despite all of the success that Syracuse has had this year, Kansas, Arizona and Michigan State are still ahead of them for odds to win the NCAA Championship in 2014. However, with the more momentum that they build and the more tops wins like they had against Duke on Saturday, the more attractive of a choice they become to be a team to win their first NCAA Championship since 2003.