It may have taken them some time to convince everybody, but the Syracuse Orange have finally established themselves as the top team in the country – they’ve done it both in the polls and on the college basketball futures too. This Wednesday, leading scorer CJ Fair and company will look to defend their No. 1 rank against an ACC rival.
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The Orange have already proven themselves against the No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers this season (in a 59-55, January 18 victory), but if they plan on living up to their 11/2 odds of winning the NCAA championship, they’ll have to show that they can handle fringe contenders just like them, day in and day out.
Pitt hasn’t had success against ranked opposition in 2013-14, but boasts an 8-3 ACC record, good enough for third in the conference behind Syracuse and Virginia.
Oddsmakers may not increase the Panthers’ 75/1 March Madness odds anytime soon, but they’ll serve a valuable gauging tool for their opponents on this and other occasions throughout the rest of the season. The question is, can the Orange fit the bill as the new team to beat in the sportsbook?
Between Fair’s 16.8 points per game and the fact that he’s not even one of the teams’ two best NBA prospects (that would be Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant), Syracuse is starting to emerge as a must-see program.