The year 2003 is forever cemented into the minds of Orange faithful, but years have come and gone since that seemingly mythical dance through March.
Fast forward to 2010 and here we sit on March’s doorstep dreaming of that ’03 run.
Why not? Syracuse is coming off back-to-back road wins. The first, in Washington D.C., where the 10th-ranked Hoyas couldn’t find an answer until it was too late, as the Orange held on to a 75-71 win inside the Verizon Center. It was the first time the Orange swept the season series against the arch rival Hoyas since 2003.
Following the win at Georgetown, the Orange visited Providence, where it could have been a potential trap game. But the Orange came out firing on all cylinders in the early going and then withstood a Friar surge in the first half. The Orange pulled away with 12- and 14-point runs during the second half. Do-it-all senior Andy Rautins and junior Rick Jackson each scored a career high 28 points in the victory. The Orange improved to 26-2 and 13-2 in Big East play. Syracuse shot 55.6 percent from the field, improving to 19-0 this year when shooting better than 50 percent.
The Orange improve to 8-0 on the road and remain the only team in the nation undefeated away from home.
Next up for the Orange is the eighth-ranked Villanova Wildcats. The Wildcats roll into Central New York hungry, having dropped two of their last three and falling to number eight in the land. Inside the numbers, both teams are among the nation’s leaders in points per game, but the real battle starts in the front court. Can the Syracuse 2-3 zone keep Big East Player of the Year candidate Scottie Reynolds from taking over the game? Reynolds has been a crucial part of Villanova’s three-game win streak against the Orange. Reynolds is 5-2 against the Orange in his career, averaging over 16 points per game.
Since the 2001-02 season, Jay Wright has posted a 9-4 record against the Orange. The Wildcats are 4-2 inside the Carrier Dome since Jay Wright took the reins.
Pittsburgh’s loss Wednesday night at Notre Dame opens the door for Syracuse. A Syracuse win Saturday night will earn them their first Big East regular season championship since 2003. With a loss, the Orange can still clinch a share of the conference title with wins in their final two games. The Orange are ranked number four in the country and will face their fifth team ranked in the top ten this season. Syracuse is 4-0 against the top ten and 6-0 against the top 15.