Been there, done that

Syracuse enters their third straight Big East tournament as a bubble team. Just five years removed from a national title, these young Orangemen need a few big wins to put them in the NCAA tournament.

Syracuse enters their third straight Big East tournament as a bubble team. Just five years removed from a national title, these young Orangemen need a few big wins to put them in the NCAA tournament.

People may remember two years ago, when Gerry McNamara was the hero, hitting repeated game-winners on the way to the tournament championship. Then last year, the Orange had a big win over UConn, but were then knocked from the tournament after losing to Notre Dame

Here Syracuse is again trying to sneak their way into the tournament. The Orange started the season ranked, and had two All-American freshman to help them toward a predicted solid Big East finish. Then, sharp shooter Eric Devendorf went down with a torn ACL, thrusting freshman Jonny Flynn into a big time role. Losing another shooter in Andy Rautins, who tore his ACL playing in Canada, hurt as well. Add the fact that they lost their only senior, Josh Wright, when he left the team in December, and ‘Cuse had lost 6 players going into this season.

So, with all this going on, how are Jim Boeheim and Syracuse 18-12?

PG – Jonny Flynn 15.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.2 APG. Flynn has outstanding Big East numbers, and while many people were waiting for him to cool down and feel the pressure of a 30 game season, Flynn has averaged 37 minutes a game. Even more, he's played in every second of every game nine times this season. Shouldn't he be burned out by now? Not so fast, as he scored 28 points against Pittsburgh last Saturday, and shot 6-of-10 from three. For a freshman point guard, he also has a 2.0 ssist-to-turnover ratio. He's the rock of this team, and will be a handful for James, Acker and Cubillan to handle.

SG – Paul Harris 14.5 PPG 8.3 RPG 3.4 APG. It's not often your "two-guard" is your leading rebounder, but that's a testament to how hard Paul Harris works. Harris matches toughness with athleticism to not only be a solid rebounder, but a good scorer as well. The sophomore has scored in double figures in the last ten games to go with 2.3 steals per game. He creates a matchup problem for Marquette on both sides of the ball, especially with his ability to get to the line.

SF – Donte Greene 17.4 PPG 7.5 RPG 1.9 APG. He is a freak. He's the most athletic kid alive… All Superbad references aside, Greene really is that good. (Side note, he could have been a top-three round draft choice if he stuck with baseball) The kid knows how to put the ball in the hoop. He can shoot well at times, very inconsistent at times. It's safe to say as Greene goes, Syracuse goes. In their losses, he's shooting only 35 percent. In their wins, he's around 50 percent. Who's going to guard him?

C – Arinze Onuaku – 12.1 PPG 8.1 RPG 1.2 BPG. Another match up problem, especially at 6'9'' 260. He is both quicker and stronger than Ousmane Barro and Dwight Burke. Does Trevor have the best chance to control him? MU fans can only hope, and hopefully he can play more than 15 minutes.

PF – Kris Ongenaet 3.9 PPG 4.5 RPG 1.0 APG. He is going to fill space and be a handful on the offensive glass. The junior from Belgium had his best game against Villanova, where he played 36 minutes and scored 12 points.

We've been talking about matchup problems all week, but regardless, if Marquette can break the zone and shoot well, they have a great chance to go into the Big East tournament on a high. The Carrier Dome isn't as fearful as before; Syracuse is only 11-5 at home this season.

Is this the first step towards a Big East run for Syracuse? Or is this another big win for Marquette, setting themselves up for their own run in New York. The game will be televised on ESPN at 3 P.M. CT.


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