Syracuse, Shockers remain on top




At this point in the college basketball season, Syracuse, Wichita State and Florida have a firm grasp on three of the NCAA tournament’s four No. 1 seeds. With Arizona’s recent struggles, the race for the fourth No. 1 seed is wide-open — any team outside of the top three of this week’s Top Freking 10 has a shot at that coveted position. And if you think being a No. 1 seed isn’t important in the chase for a national title, consider this: six of the past seven and 11 of the last 15 national champs were No. 1 seeds.

1. SYRACUSE (last week: 1)

Provided the Orange can escape mighty Boston College (6-19, 2-10 ACC) tonight, they’ll go into their rematch with Duke on Saturday undefeated. In its last two games, Syracuse has escaped Pittsburgh and North Carolina State by a combined three points. So, are the Orange a Team of Destiny or simply destined to lose Saturday? I lean toward the latter, even though Syracuse has been otherworldly good late in games. Check out this crazy stat via ESPN: when the Orange have trailed or been in a tie game in the final minute of regulation or in overtime, they’ve outscored the opposition 17-0.

2. WICHITA STATE (LW: 2)

I’m through attempting to predict the Shockers’ potential downfall — all they do is continue to pile up road wins. Tonight, Wichita State faces Loyola (Ill.) in its fourth Missouri Valley Conference road game in 14 days. When the Shockers inevitably encounter a down-to-the-wire game before their season ends, they can rest a bit easy knowing that the team’s three best players — Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet — shoot between 83-86 percent from the free-throw line.

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