I have not finished this feature yet; it is a somewhat slow process of getting the data, and updating each page as I translate the results. However, I wanted to announce this early as I have been receiving a lot of questions from loyal Syracuse fans (and readers!) on Syracuse’s performance with regards to ranked teams. I’ve completed the data from the 1948-1949 season through the 1995-1996 season. As a footnote, AP weekly voting did not start until 1948-49.
Once I’ve finished this ‘small’ project, I’ll do some of my customary analysis and commentary. But I wanted to get some of this information out to you all now, as the existing data will help answer many questions.
Just to wet your appetite, here are some highlights in Syracuse basketball history regarding ranked teams:
Syracuse first played a ranked team on February 9, 1949 when they played #20 Duquesne. Syracuse beat the Dukes 65-58 that day. Jack Kiley would lead Syracuse with 21 points.
Syracuse first played the #1 ranked team on March 13th, 1950 versus Bradley in the NIT. Bradley would win that game 78-66, and that would be the last game coached by Lew Andreas who retired after 25 years. As a side note, if you have ever wondered why there are references to the NIT once being as important as the NCAA, take note that Syracuse was playing the #1 team in the country in the post-season NIT. In other words, the #1 ranked team was not even in the NCAA tournament in 1950.
Syracuse’s first win against a Top 10 team occurred the next year, as Syracuse beat #8 Bradley 76-75 on March 31, 1951 to win the National Campus Tournament Championship (a third post season tournament that only hung around for a couple of years). Syracuse would trail in that game 18-0, before making a remarkable comeback. Jack Kiley would lead Syracuse with 12 points.
Syracuse’s first win against a Top 5 team did not occur until March 1, 1983 against Villanova, when the Orangemen beat the #4 Wildcats 79-70 at the Carrier Dome. Erich Santifer would lead the Orangemen with 21 pts.
Syracuse’s first win against a #1 Team was on January 28, 1985 against Georgetown. Syracuse beat the Hoyas 65-63. Rafael Addison would lead the Orangemen with 26 points.
The first time Syracuse was ranked #1 was the 1987-1988 preseason ranking. Syracuse would play #3 ranked North Carolina in the Tip Off classic, and lose a close one 96-93. Rony Seikaly would lead the Orangemen in scoring with 23 points.
The Orangemen were ranked #1 for 11 games over 6 weeks in 1989-1990, from November 27th until January 8th. They started that year at #3 in the preseason poll, but moved to #1 before playing any games as #1 Missouri and #2 LSU lost early November games. Their last game as a #1 ranked team was on January 6th, 1990 versus the unranked Villanova Wildcats. The Orangemen lost that game 93-74.
The last time Syracuse beat a #1 team was on March 7, 2006 when the beat Connecticut on their historic Big East Title run, with the Orangemen winning four games in four days to take the title by Gerry McNamara’s MVP performance.