After starting the season 18-0, Syracuse lost four straight. Almost immediately, rumors began circulating of a point-shaving scandal involving a number of players, including Scoop Jardine. These two facts are not unrelated.
The rumor began, as so many baseless rumors do (remember Tim Tebow's car accident?), on a gambling site. In this case, the forums on poker site PocketFives.com. The original thread is gone now, (UPDATE: it's been reposted), but the poster was relaying rumors he claimed to have heard that Syracuse's recent losing streak, and terrible overall performance against the spread, were due to players shaving points.
There were very specific details. Scoop Jardine's uncle had bet on their Jan. 8 game against Seton Hall, in which the Orange failed to cover (Jardine shot 4-for-11 with three turnovers). In Saturday's game against Marquette, James Southerland and Dion Waiters were benched, despite averaging more than 15 minutes per game apiece. This would imply that they were involved, and that Jim Boeheim was aware of the situation.
It's hard to keep juicy rumors down for long. A reporter in upstate New York passed along the allegations via his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, though promptly took them down. An SBNation blog relayed them as well, before later retracting. But it was too late, the orange juice was out of the bottle.
We're told that the team is already aware of the allegations and are hoping it doesn't get to the point where they're forced to issue a denial. Jardine himself took to Twitter:
Yo I wish all you dum a** fans that's not really Cuse fans stop with the lying ish! I love this game to much and my teammates to much! I love the game itself to much would never jeopardize everything I work so hard for with something like that! I play this game for free!! It's not true so please stop with all the bs lies!! And let me and my teammates play the game we love with peace and stop trying to make something out of nothing!!!
It is something out of nothing. Jardine had bad games because basketball players have bad games. Waiters was benched because he swore at Boeheim in the previous game. Southerland not getting off the bench was a pure basketball decision, as he's been garbage recently.
And yet, how does a team as good as Syracuse lose four in a row? How does someone as talented as Jardine go 14-for-43 in those games, 2-for-7 from the line? To a certain type of fan, especially the type who hangs out on gambling websites, the Orange's 7-13 record against the spread is the disease and not just a symptom.
Hence the point-shaving rumor. It's a trope by now to start some kind of off-the-field gossip when a team is underperforming. Villanova was upset in the NCAA Tournament, so Corey Fisher must have knocked up Scottie Reynolds' girlfriend. The Flyers hit a prolonged midseason slump, so Jeff Carter must have been boning Scott Hartnell's wife. LeBron James had a few bad games in the conference semis, so Delonte West must have been sleeping with Mama James.