Syracuse had a massive opportunity on Wednesday night. Following Tuesday’s win against Wake, the Orange put themselves into a good position. Wednesday’s game against the Heels was essentially win and you’re in. Well, things started relatively well with the Orange leading the game in the first five minutes. And then things kind of fell apart and the Orange ended up getting run over by the Heels, losing 78-59.
The same problems that have plagued the Orange all season showed themselves on Wednesday. Syracuse got completely dismantled on the glass and struggled mightily to contain UNC’s bigs. The Orange found themselves in foul trouble early and often with both of their bigs picking up three fouls in the first half. The Orange turned the ball over nine times in the first half and found themselves down by ten as they headed to the locker room.
Really nothing more can be said about the first ten minutes of the second half.There was no off-ball movement. No passing. No desperation. Just a whole lot of nothing. The offense could only be described as lethargic. Torpid even. The Orange did put together a mini-run in the final seven minutes of the game. They got as close as nine despite once trailing by 21 but UNC was never in any real danger, save for a quarter of a second span where it seemed like the Orange might have stolen the ball only down nine.
Syracuse looked lost on offense for most of the game, and as expected, struggled to handle UNC’s bigs on the other end of the floor. All season we have seen that the Orange struggle to make adjustments when the offense isn’t working and Wednesday night was no different.
This was a huge missed opportunity but it is not a death sentence. The Orange still have a resume that is very bubbly? I don’t think that word technically works but it works for the sake of a pun, so we will go with it. Syracuse has three Quadrant One wins, which all of the sudden is very important. Syracuse beat Miami and Louisville on the road and Clemson at home. They Orange can actually pick up a fourth Quadrant One win without playing, if Buffalo makes a run MAC tournament.
It will likely, ultimately come down to how other teams in similar situations to the Orange fare. Syracuse boasts a better non-conference Strength Of Schedule than most of the teams around them but another win for Louisville or Notre Dame and those two ACC teams are surely in. Syracuse could argue that they belong in over the likes of Oklahoma, Arizona State and a handful of others. Ultimately it will come down to how many bid stealers there are on championship weekend and whether or not the committee truly values road wins over home wins. Bunker down for another nervy Selection Sunday.