Syracuse battled on the road to a 75-70 loss against UNC, who despite being ranked 8th in the nation, is widely considered one of the favorites to make a run to the National Championship. In the loss, Michael Gbinije, stepped up late finishing the game with 17 points and 7 assists. However, the team struggled holding onto the ball, as the Orange turned it over 15 times, 7 of which were committed by Gbinije.
A loss is a loss, but not all losses are created equal and as far as a loss can be considered a “good” loss, falling to UNC by 5 on the road would fall into that category. Syracuse was, in the minds of most experts, on the good side of the bubble entering Monday’s game. The loss should not change that.
What it does create, however, is an absolutely thrilling final match-up of the season. Syracuse travels to Talahassee on Saturday for a game against Florida State, who the Orange beat in the Carrier Dome almost three weeks ago.
The Orange might just be able to sneak into the tournament if they lose to Florida State, especially if they win at least one game in the ACC tournament. A 9-9 ACC record often puts a team firmly on the bubble and the Orange will be just that in the worst case scenario.
However, one would have to figure that a win against Florida State would make a Syracuse tournament bid all but official. A win over Florida State would give Syracuse 10 ACC wins and 20 total wins on the season. These would include wins over Notre Dame, UConn, Texas A&M and Duke. With this record, it is hard to imagine the Orange do not get a tournament bid, even if they crash out of the ACC tournament in their first game.
The result of the Florida State game will be determined by which Syracuse team shows up. If the team that lost to Pitt at home shows up, the Orange may be in trouble. However, if Syracuse shoots the ball better from the field and the free throw line, like they did against UNC, the Orange should be able to beat the Seminoles and lock up a spot in the Big Dance.