Column: Arizona's résume a lot better than SU's
It’s always sunny in Tucson, especially with the No. 1 men’s basketball team in the country residing in the Old Pueblo, but some people think that’s a snow job.
For eight straight weeks Arizona has been No. 1, and Syracuse No. 2 in the AP Top 25 ranking. And though the UA has gotten at least 60 of the 65 first=place votes each week during that span — 63 in the latest poll — some people still think those rankings are full of number two.
After Arizona’s win over Utah, UA alumnus and ESPN reporter Jeff Goodman was compelled to tweet, “For those Syracuse fans saying Orange more deserving of top spot, resumes aren’t even close. Arizona clear-cut No. 1 right now.”
ESPN reporter Myron Medcalf wrote an entire column saying Syracuse was better, called, “Numbers, eyes agree: The Syracuse Orange are the best in the nation.”
Yes, ESPN likes to stir up trouble. Its tendency to hire loudmouthed and obnoxious personalities is so infamous that even NBC’s “30 Rock” parodied it with “Sports Shouting,” but some people have actually voted Syracuse over Arizona.
It’s not just a case of the old East Coast bias rearing its ugly head or people who don’t have the Pac-12 Networks writing the UA off: San Jose Mercury News reporter Jon Wilner voted SU over Arizona last week.
They must be bored or trying to get hits from Syracuse fans. There is no way SU should be ranked ahead of the Wildcats.
Arizona is No. 2 in the RPI, with the 18th toughest strength of schedule, while Syracuse is No. 6, with the 96th best SOS.
Arizona’s road wins: No. 5 San Diego State, No. 10 Michigan and UCLA, are vastly superior to the Orange’s road schedule. San Diego State has only lost once: to Arizona in SDSU’s second game of the year. The Aztecs beat No. 20 Creighton, Marquette and No. 6 Kansas on the road at Allen Fieldhouse, ending the Jayhawks’ 68-game non-conference winning streak at home.
Meanwhile, Michigan has beaten three top 10 teams in a row: Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State. The Wolverines are also 7-0 in the Big Ten, widely regarded as the best conference this year.
Syracuse’s only road wins are St. John’s (12-8), Virginia Tech (8-11), Boston College (5-14) and Miami (10-9).
Syracuse’s conference, the ACC, is down this year. As of Monday morning, when the latest polls were released, only five of its 15 schools had 14 or more wins. The Orange’s only chance to get a road win that remotely resembles the gauntlet the UA has run is its Feb. 22 game at No. 17 Duke (17-4). However, the Wildcats already beat the Blue Devils at Madison Square Garden, which is often considered a home court for Duke.
Of course, January rankings don’t mean a lot. The UA could very well lose this week to Stanford (13-6), and Syracuse could stumble on Wake Forest (14-6). But sports is all about arguments and determining who’s the best.
Poor Syracuse seems destined to be No. 2. In the latest list of the snowiest colleges by AccuWeather, SU dropped from No. 1 to No. 2, behind Michigan Technological University.
No word yet on what Michigan Tech’s strength of schedule is, though.
—Follow James Kelley @jameskelley520