Can Fair, Syracuse score enough?

C.J. Fair, who's averaging 18 PPG, will need to continue to shoulder the scoring load for the Orange. Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse was given a vote of confidence coming into the 2013-14 season, when the Orange were ranked No. 8 in the AP preseason poll and picked to finish second to Duke in the ACC. And, to be honest, you have to give those prognosticators credit. Based on what we saw from this program in 2012-13, there would seem to be good reason to expect a top-10 performance and second-place finish from this latest edition of Syracuse.

After all, last season we watched a team that had just lost Dion Waiters, Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine go all the way to the Final Four. Why should it be any tougher for this season's team to replace Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche and James Southerland?

That's a very good question, and at first glance it might appear that Syracuse hasn't missed a beat. Jim Boeheim's team is 4-0 and still ranked in the top 10 as it prepares to face Minnesota in the Maui Invitational (Monday at 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN). Then again, winning home games against Cornell, Fordham, Colgate and St. Francis was expected of this team. The question going forward is whether the Orange can uphold a somewhat overlooked but very vital tradition: maintaining a top-notch offense.