The Syracuse basketball program may not be considered one of the cream of the college-hoops crop by experts and the national fan base, but Orange Nation sure has been acting like it the past few days. Less than two weeks after having its 2011-12 season end at the hands of the Ohio St. Buckeyes, 'Cuse nation has been riddled with news stories about next year's team.
If you've missed some of the stories, well, here's a brief rundown of what's happened since the Orange's season-ending loss to the Buckeyes 10 days ago.
Nerlens Noel to make his decision April 11
The nation's top recruit, who has narrowed his interest list to three schools -- Syracuse, Kentucky Wildcats and Georgetown Hoyas -- announced Sunday he will make announce his decision next Wednesday, April 11, on ESPNU.
Since reclassifying from the Class of 2013 to '12 in February, the attention surrounding Noel has been intense, especially when it comes to the Orange, who need to replace four departing players, and the Wildcats, who could lose 4-6 players to the 2012 NBA Draft.
Noel would help each program tremendously, as he's considered possibly a better defensive player than National Championship Game MVP Anthony Davis, who collected 16 rebounds and blocked six shots in the biggest game of the year.
If either Syracuse or Kentucky, which is expected to also land the second-best recruit in forward Shabazz Muhammad, land Noel (6-foot-10, 215 pounds) it would immediately raise next season's expectations for each program -- the Orange move from a top-25 team to top 5, while UK moves from top 10 to No. 1.
This leads me to my next topic:
Chances Noel commits to SU?
I keep getting asked this question, and my answer is 60/40 in favor of Kentucky.
I just get the feeling UK head coach John Calipari has this "one-and-done" recruiting process figured out, as he can pitch to a recruit like Noel, who's planning to jump right to the NBA after the season, to join him for one year that features them dominating the sport.
In the video game generation, which features players and fans expecting domination by creating Dream Teams, this is the perfect situation -- especially if Muhammad joins him. This attitude was shown in Nerlen's latest blog post on ESPN.com.
Kentucky had the big win Monday night and I had a good time watching that game. I was really liking how Anthony Davis continued to be effective even without scoring the ball. I know how it feels to not be able to get it going on the offensive end at times and that makes you just want to go even harder defensively. I loved that he got Most Outstanding Player, too.
Just seeing him have all the success that he’s had this year definitely makes me think a lot about what I could be doing there. That’s really appealing to me.
However, the Orange have a few aces up their sleeves. The first is sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams, who's a good friend of Noel as both are from the Massachusetts area. MCW has made it clear, via Twitter, that he's talking to Noel and trying to convince him to commit to Syracuse.
The second ace is location, which in recruiting is a big piece of the process. Recruits love staying closer to home, so their family members and friends can come watch them play. If Noel commits to UK, then he will be farther from home.
The third, and this just recently came about, was the success Noel had with incoming Syracuse recruits DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant at the All-American Championship on Sunday.
In the exhibition-showcase game, the trio of Noel, Coleman and Grant came off the bench together and played every minute together. The results were impressive, as Noel tallied six points, five rebounds and three blocks; Coleman had six points and 12 rebounds; Grant went for eight points and two rebounds.
In the end, Grant came away impressed and helped "#Noel2Cuse" trend on Twitter.
RT if yu want @NerlensNoel3 to come to syracuse- show him some love— Jerami Grant (@MooMoo25) April 2, 2012
For those wanting a look at what Syracuse's '12 roster would look like with or without Noel, I broke that down last week.
"Battle of the Midway" vs. San Diego St. Aztecs
On Tuesday, the San Diego Union-Telegram broke the news that the Orange and San Diego State will be playing on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, Nov. 9 in San Diego, CA. The contest will more than likely be the season opener for both programs and be a similar event to last season's Carrier Classic, which was played against the North Carolina Tar Heels and Michigan St. Spartans.
To say this is a huge event in 'Cuse sports history is an understatement. Reports have the game being televised nationally and starting at 4 p.m. ET, However, nothing is official.
The Gotham Classic vs. Temple Owls
Before the announcement of the Battle of the Midway, there was a report that the Orange will face the Temple at Madison Square Garden in "The Gotham Classic."
Last season, the Owls were considered the best team in the Atlantic 10 Conference and should be a contender next season too.
As you can see, the '12-13 Syracuse basketball season is already off to a fast-paced start and, if Noel commits to Syracuse, don't look for it to slow down.