Syracuse Orange (25-6, 12-6 Big East)
Big East Tournament Seed: No. 4; plays 5/12/13 winner on Thursday (2 p.m. on ESPN).
Head Coach: Earlier this season, Jim Boeheim, who's coach his 35th season at Syracuse University, earned his 850th career victory and is currently ranked fifth all-time in victories for a men's basketball Division I coaches. Only Bob Knight (902), Mike Krzyzewski (still active), Dean Smith (879) and Adolph Rupp (876) have collected more victories.
Team MVP: Senior forward Rick Jackson is the key to the Orange's success in the Big East Tournament. Jackson, who earned All-Big East Second Team honors, has been SU's most consistent player all year. Jackson (13.1 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game) is a very agile 6-foot-9 big-man. That quality has helped the senior log a ton of minutes (35.1 minutes per game) and collect 17 double-doubles this season.
Playing For: The Orange enter the Big East Tournament as a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, but could improve their seeding with a couple wins in the conference tournament. With a Big East Tournament title, SU could earn a No. 2 seed.
Breakdown: It's been a roller coaster-like ride for Syracuse in 2010-11. At one point, the Orange were 18-0, ranked No. 4 in the country and were penciled-in to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, a mid-season tailspin (SU lost six of its next eight games, including a three-game home skid) that plummeted the Orange down the national rankings (No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) and Big East standings.
SU's wandering ship righted itself after it found a captain, sophomore guard Brandon Triche. Triche is currently the team's fourth-best scorer (11.2 ppg) on the team, but he's the player that the Orange turn to to get the them going. Junior Kris Joseph is the team's leading scorer (14.2 ppg). Senior point guard Scoop Jardine (12.6 ppg and 6.0 assists per game) can create plays, but also a lot of headaches (2.8 turnovers per game). Freshman forward C.J. Fair (6.4 ppg and 3.5 rpg) is a positive contributor off the bench.
-- Written by Jared Smith