They say the best learning is done through experience.
Well, Syracuse basketball got a lot more experience than many thought it would.
Many thought SU would not even make the NCAA tournament this year, let alone make it past the First Four. Or the first found. Or the second round. But the Orange made it to the Sweet Sixteen and could have gone even further had the offense made rather than missed a couple of dunks at point-blank range.
Maybe Syracuse was learning on the fly. Maybe SU was just good under pressure.
In any case, there is still a lot the Orange can learn. And who better to learn something from than the team that won it all?
Villanova was unstoppable—they literally were not stopped. And with all the analysis out there, every possible angle on what we saw when watching the Wildcats this season, there is one single factor that propelled them the long distance.
Quite literally the long distance. Villanova was phenomenal beyond the arc this year. For DI teams that attempted at least 72 three-pointers, the Wildcats made the highest percentage of them. Villanova was sinking threes at an incredible 40.1% clip this season (76-183), an ability that largely contributes to why the Wildcats’ ended the year with a +16.4 scoring margin.
Syracuse on the other hand had a struggling offense all season. It was the SU defense that carried the team along. Syracuse ended the year tied for 91st in DI with 27.3% three-point shooting. The Orange only attempted 55 threes and made merely 15.
So, yes, it would be too obvious to say “score more, win more,” but the point is that Syracuse has a lot of work to do on offense, especially from three-point range.
If the Orange even improve remotely on offense heading into next year, SU can be a serious contender for a national title. Syracuse’s defense carried the team that was unranked all year to be one of the last 16 teams standing. Add that caliber play to a better offense with even better players in the commits that are on their way and Syracuse should be able to put on a pretty good show come the fall.
Published: David Edelstein