Syracuse started out the season ranked in the top 25. The Orange lost games it was expected to win.
Syracuse dropped from the rankings after a string of losses to non-conference opponents. The Orange upset three top-ten teams and came close to winning a fourth.
Syracuse plays its final game of the regular season schedule today. No one can be sure what to expect.
But it is exactly that — unpredictability — that can (and has) make SU great in recent times.
As far as today’s game against Georgia Tech goes, no one can be sure which Syracuse team will appear on the court. The Orange won five games in a row before losing three straight, including a 71-65 loss to the Yellow Jackets last week. That losing streak ended with an electric, buzzer-beater win over a ranked Duke team, which was followed by a blowout loss to a ranked Louisville team.
So, what is there to expect for a rematch against an unranked Georgia Tech?
Well, it is in the Carrier Dome, a factor that has been the most consistent predictor for the Orange’s success this year. Syracuse is 7-1 against ACC teams on the Hill, and there is high upside for that to become 8-1 tonight.
Yet, at the same time, Syracuse can come out rusty. After a stretch where it played a game nearly every three days, SU has has nearly a week off. As Boeheim said in the postgame press conference after the loss at Louisville on Sunday, it is needed time off, but could also be hazardous for a team looking to gain momentum as tournament season tips off.
Also, the Yellow Jackets took advantage of the Orange the last time the teams met, which didn’t look good the SU’s resume.
As for the rest of the 2016-2017 campaign? This unpredictability can overall be in Syracuse’s favor.
The Orange is exciting to watch. SU has gotten some big wins. Syracuse can make the comeback, and if not win the game, keep the victory within contention until the end.
And as we saw last year, Syracuse can indeed pull it off.
What’s next for the Orange, I wouldn’t say anyone can be precisely sure. A win tonight would help.
All that is definite is that Syracuse will play a game on Jim Boeheim Court this afternoon. As fans, we get to anticipate the surprises that can ultimately be beneficial for the team in the long run. As for the Orange team, it has to work to make that magic happen.
Published: David Edelstein