It’s not very often that a 1-2 record over a three game stretch should be deemed a success. Especially when the win comes against an unranked opponent and one of the losses came at home in front of this year’s largest on-campus crowd in the country. But that is the case for the Orange.
Over the last three games, SU pulled off a road win against a fringe top 25 Miami team, a narrow loss to No. 10 UNC and held Duke, the nation’s third highest scoring team, to just 60 points, nearly 30 below its season average.
But each of these games had one thing in common: Syracuse was a heavy underdog in all three.
At one point this season, all of these teams were ranked inside the top 10. If you had to pick any three game stretch this season that the Orange would completely strike out on, this was the one.
The Miami win was beyond crucial to giving a hint of a pulse to the season. Road wins against good teams are hard to come by, especially this late in the season. UNC also delivered even more of a hope that SU could potentially pull off something magical and sneak into the tournament. And as much as the Duke loss took the wind out of Syracuse’s sails, the Orange held the Blue Devils at arms length for most of the game. Duke simply had more talent and SU could not take advantage of the game’s sluggish start.
Without the Miami win and the close performance against UNC, there is zero thought of sniffing the tournament. With just two regular season games remaining, the Orange controls its own destiny to a degree. But it won’t be easy. If SU can pull off wins against Boston College on the road and a top 25 Clemson team, that would significantly boost the Orange’s resume. Roads wins always help, especially against a top 100 RPI Eagles team, and a win over the Tigers would check off a win over a top 25 team.
This has been the theme of the entire season for the Orange. To say this team has overachieved is an understatement. This was a squad that people thought could finish with no more than 16 wins. But now, 20 victories is more than reasonable. An ACC Tournament win could be the difference between getting into the tournament and a second straight NIT bid.
The North Carolina game showed SU can hang with teams and the Miami win showed the toughness. Now, it’s up to whether or not the Orange can put it all together over its next most important three game stretch of the season.