For the second straight season, the Orange have dug themselves a deep hole during non-conference play. Last season, the Orange got off to a 6-0 start, knocking off two top 25 teams before faltering in December to weak opposition. This season is deja vu all over again. Except this time, it is worse.
The Orange lost to both Georgetown and St John’s for the second straight year but this time both games were at home and one of them was one of the worst performances that Syracuse has ever had at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse also doesn’t have a clear cut excuse. Last year, the Orange were without head coach Jim Boeheim for nine games and the committee may have considered this when putting Syracuse into the Big Dance. No such fall back this time around.
With that said, all hope is not quite lost. The Orange started 0-3 in ACC play last season and managed to fight and claw back to a 9-9 record. Chances are Syracuse will need 10 conference wins to override the damage that has been done in the first seven weeks of the season. This is, of course, a tall task for a team that has been dismantled by St. John’s playing in a loaded conference but it is far from impossible. The Orange have shown flashes of ability this season but have failed to put anything together. They have one more chance to do that before the games really start to count.
However, the Orange simply can’t lose Tuesday. There is no way around it. The Georgetown loss hurts the resume. The UConn loss hurts the resume. The St. John’s loss severely wounds the Orange’s resume. A loss to Cornell, at home, might just be a fatal blow to any NCAA tournament ambitions before the season really gets started.