ENJOY THESE ORANGE BEFORE THEY GET PEELED BY NBA

GREAT NEWS ON MIGUEL SANO

AMERKS OFF IMPRESSIVE 5-1 TRIP

The Syracuse Orange remain undefeated (19-0) and are making this frigid winter more bearable in western and central New York.

We should all enjoy this thoroughly entertaining team while we can – because there is at least a slight chance that SU will be supplying THREE first-round picks to the 2014 NBA Draft: senior forward C.J. Fair, sophomore forward Jerami Grant and freshman guard Tyler Ennis.

Fair probably isn’t a lottery pick on raw talent but has the game and attitude to enjoy a long NBA career. Grant is a lottery pick waiting to happen.  He has only begun to tap his extraordinary raw talent. He could in time be an NBA star. Ennis continues to impress with his court poise and savvy. I hope he’s enjoying the college experience enough to return for at least another season – but I can see him as a low first-round pick this year by a good team that projects him as a near-future franchise point guard.

For the record, SU never has supplied three first-rounds picks to an NBA Draft. SU twice supplied two first-round picks:

1991 – Billy Owens 3rd pick overall...LeRon Ellis 22nd pick overall

2012 – Dion Waiters 4th pick overall...Fab Melo 22nd pick overall.

SANO'S ELBOW OK AND HE PREDICTS 45-TO-55 HOME RUNS

Minnesota Twins slugging third-base prospect Miguel Sano’s suspect right elbow was tested last Friday at Target Field and no structural damage was found.

Sano, 20 years old and 243 pounds, hit 35 home runs in only 123 games in high Single-A and Double-A last season despite a sore elbow.

Sano told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he expects to hit 45-to-55 HRs this season and walk 100-to-120 times (“maybe 150”).

He plans to be in Minnesota’s Opening Day lineup but is far more likely to open the season with New Britain (Eastern League) or Rochester (with an impressive spring training).

BETTING TRENDS FOR THE BRONCOS AND SEAHAWKS

The Denver Broncos have been favored in all 18 games this season. They’re 11-7 against the Las Vegas point spread. In over/under wagering (combined points by both teams) they’ve gone over 11 times (including their first eight games) and under 7 times (including their last five games).

The Seattle Seahawks have been favored in 17 of their 18 games this season and are 12-6 against the Las Vegas point spread. In over/under wagering, they’ve gone under 12 times (including their last seven games) and over 6 times.

--Thumbs up to the Rochester Americans for posting an excellent 5-1 record during a challenging six-game stretch of American Hockey League road games. The Amerks are a very respectable 9-10-2-1 on the road. They’re 10-5-1-2 at home and host the Chicago Wolves Wednesday and the Rockford IceHogs Friday at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.

The Amerks rank 9th in the AHL on the power play and 27th in penalty killing. They’ve played in 8 overtime games: 0 OT wins, 3 OT losses, 2 Shootout wins, 3 Shootout losses.

--The National Lacrosse League Rochester Knighthawks, after a 3-0 start – all in home games – lost 11-10 at the Buffalo Bandits before a crowd of 13,339 last Saturday night. Amazing 45-year-old John Tavares scored four goals for the Bandits. ESPN’s SportsCenter should do a feature on this guy.

The loss dropped Rochester to 3-1 and left the Edmonton Rush (4-0 record after a 9-8 road win over Vancouver last Saturday night) as the NLL’s only unbeaten team. The Knighthawks play at Edmonton Saturday night and host Tavares and the rest of the Bandits Saturday, Feb. 8. Can that dynamite NLL matchup draw 10,000-plus?

--Andrew Albers, a surprise star for the Rochester Red Wings last season, is expected to pitch for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization this season. Albers, a 28-year-old, soft-serving left-hander, was Minnesota’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The former independent league veteran was 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts for Rochester. He was 2-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts with Minnesota.

--Believe It Or Not, and I’m not sure I do, the Rochester Lancers are outdrawing the Rochester Americans. According to Major Indoor Soccer League stats, the Lancers are No. 1 in the seven-team league with an average home crowd of 6,068 (seven home dates). The Amerks rank 16th in the 30-team American Hockey League with an average crowd of 4,852 (18 home dates). Obviously, Wednesday night games  don’t help.

The Lancers easily won Friday at the outclassed Pennsylvania Roar (24-8) and were crushed Saturday at the defending champion Baltimore Blast (17-2). Neither outcome was a surprise. The lack of parity is a problem in this seven-team league. Baltimore and Milwaukee are much the best teams and Pennsylvania is incredibly bad. It will be interesting to see if the Roar return for a second season.

--Here’s how Syracuse U.’s top three three-point shooters are faring: Trevor Cooney 57x137 (.416), Tyler Ennis 17x42 (.416) and C.J. Fair 125x53 (.283). The rest of the team is 14x62 (.226)...The Orange are doing better at the foul line (.693; 305x440) than their opponents (.661; 213x322).

--Mike Krzyzewski logged his 300th coaching victory at Duke over the weekend. He’s 973-301 combined at Army (73-59) and Duke (900-242; .764). Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim might not catch Coach K for career wins, but he’ll probably finish with the all-time most victories at one Division I school. He’s 939-312 (.740) at Syracuse.

--I have a hunch Johnny Manziel will be starting at quarterback for Mike Pettine when he brings his Cleveland Browns to Buffalo next season -- and wouldn’t we all be very excited to watch it?

--What was a bigger surprise of the sports weekend – Stan Wawrinka beating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open men’s final or a vastly-improved NFL Pro Bowl Game? Team Rice beat Team Saunders 22-21 in a game featuring real hitting and spirited play for a change. The over/under (combined number of points) was 90. The final total was 43. The “over” bettors must have been shocked to see defensive players actually trying to make plays.