Syracuse V. Ohio State: What the Win Would Mean for Jim Boeheim's Legacy

Amelia AhlgrenContributor IIIMarch 24, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 17:  Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange reacts against the Kansas State Wildcats during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 17, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

If Syracuse wins in Boston tonight, Jim Boeheim will not only prop up his reputation, but he will prove his resilience in the most tested season he has ever faced as head coach of the Orange.

Certainly the statistics of what he will achieve should not be overlooked or undersold.

A win tonight would be the 891st of Boeheim's career. He currently stands at No. 7 on the all-time win list and is within striking distance of Bob Knight's career 902 wins. 

A victory tonight would also mean that Boeheim records his fourth Final Four appearance.

He carried the Orange to the Final Four in 1987, 1996 and 2003, which account for three of 'Cuse's four Final Four showings.

With three trips to the semifinals, Boeheim is in the company of 15 other NCAA Men's Basketball coaches who have accomplished the same feat.

But should Boeheim win tonight, he will move to a new tier of elite, joining just six other head coaches who have made four trips to the Final Four.

Those are not the most impressive qualities a win would convey, however.

Syracuse's road to Boston has been mired by tribulation.

The Orange opened their season distracted by child molestation accusations launched against longtime associate head coach Bernie Fine.

Boeheim entangled himself personally in the matter, publicly criticizing Fine's accusers in an interview that inspired a lawsuit against Boeheim and Syracuse.

'Cuse's past ghosts also caught up with them this year when a report indicated that the basketball program systematically ignored internal drug policy, allowing users of recreational drugs to practice and play when they should have been deemed ineligible.

The three-ring circus trudged on with the Fab Melo academic probation saga. The 7-foot center missed three games in the regular season before being cleared to rejoin the ranks of the team.

But just when fans thought they could wipe the sweat from their brow, the University doled a crushing blow, announcing the day before the tournament commenced that Fab Melo would not travel to Pittsburgh with the Orange.

All year, Boeheim has been ushered into endless press conferences where he has been asked to address issues hardly pertinent to the game of basketball.

And along for the ride is perhaps the strongest team Boeheim has had the pleasure of coaching.

If the Orange can endure and escape from Boston alive, it will only serve to prove that Jim Boeheim is one of the most staunchly resilient coaches in the game.

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