To start this post as every post on this website has started for the past week, Syracuse basketball is not playing well. Jim Boeheim once called this team one of the best he’s ever had, but the Orange will now need a dominant performance in the ACC if it wants an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The new year brings the toughest of SU’s schedule, so let’s take a look at how Syracuse compare’s to the rest of the ACC’s first half of the season.
Everyone knows the wins and losses gives Syracuse a bad first impression. Only one ACC team lost more games than the Orange (Boston College’s 7-6 nonconference record). Georgia Tech was the only team with four losses, while the rest of the conference lost three games or less. Boston College was the only team with losses worse than Syracuse’s. The Eagles fell to Harvard, Hartford, Fairfield, Richmond, Kansas State and Nicholls State. Syracuse only had the ninth-toughest nonconference schedule in the ACC, but still goes into conference play with the second-worst record. The Orange is the only ACC team who started the season ranked and has since fallen out of the top 25.
Syracuse allows 64.2 points per game, which is sixth out of the 15 teams in the ACC. The offense is what has let the Orange down. Syracuse’s 76.7 points per game is No. 10 among ACC teams, and its 45.6 shooting percentage from the field is No. 11. The 65 percent Syracuse shoots from the free throw line is No. 14. Just about everything Syracuse does well is on the defensive side of the ball. The Orange gets more steals per game than any other ACC team, and is third in the conference in blocks per game. Syracuse is third in three-point percentage (39.4 percent), but lives and dies by it. Over 40 percent of the shots the Orange takes are from distance.
Individually, nobody has stood out as a top player going into conference play. Not a single member of the Orange cracks the top 10 in scoring or rebounding among ACC players. Andrew White is third in the conference in three-point percentage, and Frank Howard is second in both assists per game and steals per game (although much of that has been due to big performances against weak teams). John Gillon is No. 9 in both steals and assists per game.
Winning in the ACC is always tough; it’s part of the reason why seven teams from the conference made the big dance last season (and would have been eight if not for Louisville’s ban). Syracuse’s road to the tournament was a simple one at the start of the season; the Orange was ranked No. 19 and the country already thought the Orange had talent. Now, it will take a run through the ACC that requires more than anything SU has shown this season to convince the committee Syracuse deserves a bid.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson