Win and in was the mantra many SU fans were living by coming into Saturday’s thrashing of Georgia Tech. With that battle conquered, SU has a date with #25 Miami in a territory that has not treated the Orange kindly this season: the neutral floor. New York City has been the location for all of its neutral court losses, and the Barclays Center has already seen Syracuse lose this season against South Carolina in its first loss of the year.
Now, the Orange looks to avenge that early season falter and play much better than the NBA team that inhibits the arena. However, it is something much easier said than done, as the Hurricanes really do not have a bad loss all year. The U ended the season with back-to-back losses, but that followed a four game winning streak, which featured victories against Duke and on the road against Virginia. While the losses likely bounce the Canes from the polls come Monday, Miami is an impressive team and the ACC Tournament as a whole is a good barometer for Syracuse, should it reach the big dance. That being said, there are a couple of things the Orange needs to prove it can accomplish on the neutral floor.
The Orange’s two lowest offensive outputs came at neutral locations. Syracuse hung a 50 spot in both games. Those season-low point totals were accompanied by SU’s worst shooting performances. The Orange shot 25 percent against UConn and 31 percent against South Carolina. Those figures are not going to win any games, as evidenced by its 0-9 record when shooting under 42 percent, and it especially won’t against ACC and tournament-caliber opponents. Hopefully for the Orange, Andrew White didn’t waste all his buckets on Georgia Tech.
Syracuse ranks 25th in the nation with 8 steals per game, however, the Orange posted just 6 in each of its neutral location games. The big payout from Syracuse using the 2-3 zone is getting steals. If it can’t capitalize from its defensive style, SU could find itself climbing out of deficits again.
Syracuse needs to figure it out at neutral locations because, well, the Orange won’t be playing on Jim Boeheim court until next November.