So where does Syracuse sit after the end of the regular season? The Orange stopped the bleeding with a double-digit win over Florida State, but the damage may have already been done. In Joe Lunardi’s ESPN bracket projection today, Syracuse is only a three-seed. The good news? He still put the Orange in Buffalo for the first two games. The bad news? He has them in the Indianapolis pod, not New York.
Obviously, this is not nearly set in stone. There’s plenty of work Syracuse can do to prop up its resume. Three wins in Greensboro and wins over Duke, UNC or Virginia would most certainly propel SU to a 2-seed (maybe even a 1). But Lunardi usually has a good feel for the field, and the fact is Syracuse severely hurt itself with the four losses in recent weeks.
Syracuse played its worst basketball of the season at the worst possible time. Going 2-4 in its last six games after starting 25-0 took major steam out of the optimism. This team has too much talent. But the win over Florida State has the potential to get this team back on track.
Florida State was playing for its life. By many projections the Seminoles are one of the last four teams out of the NCAA tournament. A high-caliber win against Syracuse team could have propelled FSU into the 68-team field. A loss would’ve been horrendous. A win may have impressed the NCAA tournament selection committee enough to have avoided even worse for for the Orange.
During the Orange’s recent slump Jeremi Grant has been in and out of the lineup with a sore back. His injury has killed Syracuse in terms of depth and rebounding. But his return against FSU showed how important he is with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita have been in foul trouble almost every game and SU had been outrebounded in 4 of its last 5. Christmas and Keita struggled so badly without Grant playing, Tyler Roberson got his first career start in place of Grant in Syracuse’s loss to Georgia Tech. Jim Boeheim had all of his big men active, which gave him the opportunity to work out his frontcourt rotation before the post season begins.
Because of SU’s current rut, Sunday’s win was an opportunity to spark Syracuse and to give the team confidence entering the postseason. The question is how big a hole did the Orange already dig?
Posted by: Connor Morrissette