Suffice to say, Detroit Free Press Michigan State beat writer Joe Rexrode won’t be on any Christmas card mailing lists from Syracuse fans or alumni.
Rexrode said he didn’t realize he was going out on a limb by being the only AP men’s college basketball voter who ranked two-loss Florida No. 1 ahead of unbeaten Syracuse in this week’s AP Top 25.
“This is crazy,” Rexrode said. “I didn’t think I’d be the only one.”
But Rexrode backed up his vote by using the eye test as his guide. And it makes sense. Syracuse was less-than-impressive this week in needing a 38-footer to beat Pittsburgh and a last second-steal and layup at home to knock off unranked North Carolina State last week. As for the Gators, “I had a chance to watch both teams play twice last week and I just think Florida is playing better,” Rexrode said. “They have the point guard (Scottie Wilbekin), they have the wing (Casey Prather), they have the depth, they have the experience, they have the coach (Billy Donovan). For them to go up to Kentucky, which is a tough environment, and close out that game, I just think they are the best team in the country right now.’
Asked if Syracuse deserved to ahead of Florida because the Orange play in a tougher conference (ACC compared to SEC), Rexrode responded: “Yeah, but it my opinion, N.C. State is not a very good team. And Florida was short-handed when they lost at Wisconsin and in the Connecticut game there was some luck involved with that last shot (the Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater). I just think right now, Florida is playing better than anyone.”