In a year when no Top 10 team is really safe -- the parity in college basketball is too great as the NCAA Tournament approaches -- Syracuse might be the most vulnerable of all the elite teams. Jim Boeheim's crew is 18-2 and tied for first place in the Big East at 6-1.
But the Orange is also now down to seven scholarship players after freshman forward Dajaun Coleman was declared out for four weeks with a knee injury. He is only averaging five points and 4.3 rebounds per game, but the loss of depth is a killer. Coleman had started all 20 games for Syracuse. That injury news comes on the heels of senior forward James Southerland being declared academically ineligible on Jan.?12. There is no timetable for his return.
The schedule may help a bit. Syracuse won't see a ranked opponent again until Feb. 25, when it hosts No. 25 Marquette (15-4, 6-1). The rematch with No. 12 Louisville (17-4, 5-3) won't happen until March 2, which should be enough time for Coleman, at least, to return.
- Brian McNally