Rick Pitino remembers the good’ ole days of the Old Big East. When his Louisville Cardinals won the league in 2011 the Big East set a record with 11 bids in the NCAA Tournament, but Pitino thinks this year might be the one to break that record.
It’s easy to speculate when you’re coaching a top 10 team, but some of us still have a season to try and salvage. Syracuse basketball’s hopes of making the tournament are slim, but winning thre regular season ACC title would definitely give the Orange a compelling case. Is this a ridiculous thing to even discuss? Probably, but we’re going to have to reach a little when it comes to SU making the big dance. Besides, after last night’s Miami win there’s only nine more to go! These aren’t nine games I think Syracuse will win, but simply the nine games the Orange is most likely to win.
Win No. 1: Boston College
Yes, I know what happened three days ago, but Boston College is still the easiest win in the ACC and Syracuse needs to win Round 2 of the season series in the Carrier Dome. Now that Jim Boeheim has seen what the Eagles can do, hopefully he can gameplan the Orange to a much-needed win in front of the home crowd.
Win No. 2: Wake Forest
Wake Forest has already played three ACC games and started 1-2, with its only win coming against Boston College. Like the Orange, the Demon Deacons didn’t beat anyone worth beating in nonconference play, and has not had as tough a schedule as the Orange thus far.
Wins No. 3 and 4: Georgia Tech
Yes, I know Georgia Tech just beat North Carolina by double-digits, but Syracuse plays the Yellow Jackets twice this season and needs to win both. Georgia tech had zero quality wins before taking down the Tar Heels and suffered an early-season loss to Ohio, so there’s definitely weaknesses to take advantage of on this team.
Wins No. 5 and 6: Pittsburgh
Pitt has early-season losses to SMU and Duquesne (Dukes’ fans stormed the court after the win), but also lost to No. 24 Notre Dame by one point and beat No. 11 Virginia Wednesday. Games against old Big East foes have been nightmares for the Orange this season, but the fact that Jamie Dixon is gone should make SU fans more optimistic about beating Pitt than anything else.
Win No. 7: NC State
The Wolfpack started ACC play with an 18-point loss to Miami, but got a convincing 104-78 win over No. 21 Virginia Tech Wednesday. Before that, NC State lost to Creighton and Illinois in the non-conference schedule. The good news? NC State only beat Boston by four at home, a team the Orange dominated by 22 points. Depending on which Wolfpack team comes out to play the Orange on Feb. 1, this could be an easy win.
Win No. 8: Clemson
The Tigers lost to a not-so-good Oklahoma team, but beat a ranked (at the time) South Carolina team. Luckily, Syracuse gets Clemson right in between the Tigers’ games against Florida State and Duke, so it’s a nice opportunity for a trap game.
Win No. 9: No. 21 Virginia Tech
We’ve already spent all the games Syracuse has left against unranked teams this season (the ACC is that good), so the Orange is going to have to beat a ranked team to get to double-digits. Virginia Tech on Tuesday is the best bet. Not only did the Hokies lose by 26 to NC State Wednesday, but Syracuse is sandwiched between games against No. 12 Florida State and No. 23 Notre Dame, so there’s another trap game opportunity there.
There you have it. Syracuse’s path to 10 ACC wins isn’t a clear or likely one, but at least now you have a road map.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson