Iseman: Despite recent struggles, Syracuse still contender in parity-filled NCAA landscape

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 1, 2013 at 10:32 am It’s natural to search for answers. Losses incite the need to find reasons and to insist a change is needed. Syracuse’s six losses, especially its last two, have created that type of swirling concern.You can search as much as you want, but in the end, a lot of it comes down to parity rarely seen before in college basketball. Syracuse has losses and flaws. So do top teams across the nation.Nothing’s normal in college basketball. The rankings are shuffled from week to week. Teams expected to sit at the top have slid up, down and out of the top 10. Teams that have had little to no shot at being ranked have upended top-five teams.Four different teams have spent time ranked No. 1. Indiana has spent 10 weeks in the top spot. The Hoosiers have three losses to unranked teams while playing as No. 1.Thirteen different teams have spent some portion of the season ranked in the top five in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Of those 13, seven of them have at least three losses to unranked teams, and two of them have two losses to unranked teams. Miami, who shocked the nation and stormed up the rankings to as high as No. 2, got trounced by Wake Forest 80-65 last week.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe most recent shocking upset came just Wednesday, when Penn State, who was 0-14 in the Big Ten, upset No. 4 Michigan 84-78. That loss is far worse than any Syracuse has suffered, and yet the Wolverines sit eight spots ahead of the Orange in the rankings. Michigan made only five of its 20 3-point attempts, and let Nittany Lions guard Jermaine Marshall go off for 25 points, 18 of them coming on 3s.This season is completely unpredictable.Even though the Orange is coming off of back-to-back losses for the second time this season, there’s no reason to discount Syracuse’s ability to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. The same inconsistency that’s plagued SU has struck other top teams, as well.It’s the nature of the sport this year.There’s no denying the Orange’s losses came with some particularly bad shooting and defensive breakdowns. And without a dominant inside presence, Syracuse could be at a disadvantage.Syracuse has six losses, and four of them came to unranked teams. But none of the Orange’s losses came to particularly bad teams. The weakest Big East team Syracuse fell to is Villanova, and the Wildcats also upended Marquette and Connecticut, two teams the Orange lost to.Every single team is vulnerable this season. We all know Syracuse has flaws. The Orange isn’t a great shooting team and often struggles on the glass. SU’s been outrebounded in nine games this season, five of those being losses. Correct either of those issues and Syracuse becomes a near dominant team.But while Syracuse has its imperfections, so does every other team. And it’s shown by the incredible amount of upsets.There have been so many upsets this season, court-storming is starting to lose its significance.Having success in both the Big East and NCAA tournaments is all about getting hot at the right time. If Syracuse finishes the regular season strongly and carries momentum through the conference championship, making a deep run in the NCAA is a likely possibility.Any of the top-10 teams have a legitimate shot at winning the championship. Syracuse sits at No. 12 and should be in the conversation for Final Four contenders.“When you lose a game, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to revamp everything,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after his team’s loss to Marquette. “We lost a game.”The panic that Syracuse is suddenly not capable of beating elite teams is an overreaction. This is a particularly difficult stretch in the Orange’s season where four of its final five games are against ranked teams, including two (Louisville and Georgetown) in the top 10.Teams up and down the top 10 are capable of a loss to a team outside of the top 25 at any point. Despite any of its six losses, Syracuse stands a chance to make a deep run, especially if it irons out its flaws in the next couple of weeks.Those flaws have cost the Orange at times this season. It’s no different than any other team in the country. Commentslast_img read more

Badgers wrestle Hoosiers to submission in 26-9 win

first_imgAfter dropping consecutive dual matches against two of the Big Ten’s best just a week ago, the No. 20 Wisconsin wrestling team righted the ship in a solid 26-9 defeat of Indiana Friday night at home.The Badgers (7-4, 4-2 Big Ten) took seven of the 10 individual contests, including two comeback victories in the final seconds of the third period.Head coach Barry Davis was pleased to see his team executing under pressure after his team’s two-match conference slide.“For our guys it was about getting on track, we need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Davis said. “Be offensive, beating your ties, getting into your positions and finding ways to win. That’s what [Connor] Medbery did tonight as well as Frank Cousins in tight matches.”With a 10-6 lead heading into the 165-pound match, Cousins, a redshirt sophomore, was unable to amass any offense in the first period and could not earn a point for an escape in the second.After allowing an escape in the third period to break the scoreless tie, Cousins needed two takedowns in the final 90 seconds to keep a comfortable team lead. He was able to twist his opponent down by the leg for his first takedown and won the match with another takedown with 13 seconds remaining in the period.“After I got the first takedown, he escaped,” Cousins said. “The second takedown, I just kind of let go, relaxed, and it was offense, offense, offense … and then eventually got to one of my holds and took him down.”Medbery, a redshirt freshman, also completed a last-minute win thanks to an emphatic takedown with 30 seconds left in the final period against No. 13 Adam Chalfant. The No. 10 heavyweight in the nation, Medbery is 10-0 this year in dual matches and has defeated five ranked conference opponents this season.The last-second reversal of fortunes executed by Medbery came from preparation in practice, thanks to drills by Davis that put the team in pressure situations and forces the wrestlers to apply quick offense.“We put them in situations where they’re down a point with 30 [seconds] to go,” Davis said. “What’s your go-to move, how are you going to find a way to score, so you prepare for those things because they’re going to happen in duals and especially in tournaments.”Wisconsin never conceded its lead after redshirt junior Tyler Graff won 22-7 by technical fall in the 133-pound match. The Olympic qualifier and No. 5 ranked wrestler in the 133-class recorded 11 takedowns on the day in one of the team’s three extra point wins.Fifth-year senior Cole Schmitt also helped the team by winning his third consecutive match, defeating Indiana’s Preston Keiffer. After a scoreless first period, Schmitt wore down his opponent and forced the match’s only takedown late in the second period in an eventual 4-0 win.The New Glarus native used his strength to overpower his opponent even after gaining no points in the match’s first three minutes.“I know that I’m going to tire him out by the end of the match, so if it’s 0-0 first period, I don’t care,” Schmitt said. “I’ll just keep going and get the next point.”Schmitt said he’s been a better wrestler in his three-match winning streak because of losing the pound or two that had been hindering his strength.“I had to get my weight under control,” Schmitt said. “It’s not quite where it should have been the last few weeks; I’ve just been more disciplined … my conditioning feels so much better. I feel like I can go 15 minutes if I have to.”Wisconsin also saw victories from fifth-year senior Tom Kelliher at 141 pounds, redshirt junior Scott Liegel in a 12-3 major decision at 174 pounds and a Jackson Hein victory in a forfeit at 197 pounds.The Badgers showed themselves in greater physical condition than the Hoosiers throughout late-match situations, a promising sign for a team that still has two big duals remaining against conference opponents.“We’re in great shape,” Davis said. “Guys don’t wait that long. Guys like Frank, just get it earlier – that’s the pace you should do the whole time. Our shape is good, let’s use it more to our advantage.”In Wisconsin’s largest margin of victory in a Big Ten win this season, the group may be peaking at the right time for Davis.“It’s about getting better,” Davis said. “When you’re worried about getting better, winning takes care of itself … When we do that, we’ll be fine.”last_img read more