first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 20, 2013 at 2:08 am Contact Ryne: [email protected] Jim Boeheim wasn’t about to reflect on the past Saturday night at Seton Hall – another stop on Syracuse’s farewell tour through the Big East. Instead, Boeheim explained the challenge his team, and every other team in college basketball, faces in the present.Parity rules the game today, something the SU head coach was reminded of that afternoon when he watched Virginia Tech, sitting in last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference, take North Carolina State into overtime on the road before falling by four.“We’ve got to concentrate on each game where every game is incredibly tough in this league and in every league,” Boeheim said. “There’s just unbelievable balance in college basketball now.”Boeheim’s message comes before Syracuse welcomes an upstart Providence team to the Carrier Dome for a rematch in Big East play. For the first time all year back in January, the Orange (21-4, 9-3 Big East) trailed at halftime before clinching a six-point victory over the Friars. Providence (14-11, 6-7) is riding a four-game winning streak and playing arguably its best basketball of the season heading into its matchup with SU on Wednesday at 7 p.m.“They’ve won four in a row and it was an even game up there,” Boeheim said. “So obviously, they’re a really good team.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat’s all Syracuse can expect after the Friars first battle with the Orange. Providence jumped out to an early lead behind a hot shooting performance by junior Bryce Cotton.He nailed five 3-pointers and only missed one shot in the first half, scoring 17 points to carry his team to a three-point lead at the break.The spectacular shooting display left an impression on C.J. Fair, whose first recollection of Syracuse’s 72-66 win at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was the 6-foot-1 guard who finished with 24 points that night.“We let Cotton get a hot start against us,” Fair said. “He made a lot of 3s, we got to find him at all times.”Cotton leads the Big East in scoring with 20.4 points per game, and in 3-pointers with 73. His play has been crucial to the Friars’ four-game winning streak in which they’ve climbed out of the conference cellar.The most impressive of Providence’s four victories is arguably its most recent, a 71-54 win over then-No. 21 Notre Dame on Saturday. Cotton scored 19 points, but got plenty of help.Six-foot-9 center Kadeem Batts paced the Friars with 20 points and forward LaDontae Henton chipped in with 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Point guard Vincent Council handed out 11 assists to become the program’s all-time leader.The balanced effort makes Providence a dangerous opponent, despite the team’s record. And Boeheim knows Syracuse will have to fight to earn its 10th conference win.“They’re playing really well and it will be a tough game,” Boeheim said.Boeheim’s breakdown on parity in college basketball prompted a quick look ahead to March, when the season comes down to one game in the NCAA Tournament.The head coach acknowledged that the small gap in talent from team to team makes him optimistic SU can make a deep run, while also causing him to realize the realistic possibility of an early exit for the Orange.For now, Syracuse has six games left in the regular season.The team’s focus is on the Friars on Wednesday night. The ultimate goal remains the same as it was before the season. Until March arrives, though, the Orange can only continue to build its resume as it tries to maintain its lofty position in the rankings.“We feel we’re one of the top teams in the country,” SU guard Brandon Triche said. “A lot of teams are losing, but it don’t really matter until the tournament.” Commentslast_img

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