If you happen to follow the NCAA’s official March Madness account on Twitter, you may have noticed they’ve got a bracket going for which men’s college basketball program has the all-time greatest starting five. Syracuse is in the bracket as a 4-seed, and today is squaring off against 5-seed Wake Forest.
And the starting five for Syracuse that… well, whoever is running things came up with… is a little wonky. Here, take a look for yourself:
West Round 1:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) July 24, 2018
All five players selected for Syracuse are terrific, obviously. Sherman Douglas, Pearl Washington, Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick, and Derrick Coleman are indeed some of the best players to ever wear Orange.
But while Derrick Coleman and Carmelo Anthony, in particularly, certain belong in any all-time starting five, there was one particularly glaring omission: Dave Bing. The man was named one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA (granted, that was awhile ago at this point, but still), yet he doesn’t crack the starting five for his own alma mater – a program he essentially jump started (alongside teammate and co-captain Jim Boeheim).
Alright, then. Cool. Apparently whoever is running this thing has a vague idea of the history of college basketball.
Moving on, I preface this by saying I love Hakim Warrick. He’s a great player, and was obviously an enormous reason we won the championship in 2003. But he doesn’t belong on our all-time starting five. John Wallace? Yeah, he might fit in there at the forward spot alongside Carmelo and DC. For my money, though, that spot has to go to Billy Owens. Yes, I know his pro career was a bit of a disappointment (career averages of 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 600 games), but a couple things to note: first, this is supposed to be about his college career, and secondly, even if we were factoring in his NBA career, people forget that he had about four hundred knee surgeries, which completely derailed his career.
They also forget just how good he was at Syracuse, by the way, including averaging 23.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists as a junior before going pro.
For me, an all-time starting five would be either Sherman Douglas or Pearl Washington at one guard spot (and honestly, you could flip a coin between the two and I’d be cool with it either way, but for the sake of how much he impacted the sport of college basketball and this Syracuse program, I lean toward Pearl), and Bing at the other. The front line would be Carmelo, Billy Owens, and Derrick Coleman.
Of course, it doesn’t matter, because recency bias means that fans will (and already are) giving Wake the overwhelming number of votes because of Chris Paul and Tim Duncan (despite the fact that, if every single one of those players on both sides was in his college prime, the Syracuse team would win by double digits). Still, it’s baffling to see the starting five selected by the folks at the NCAA.