After cruising past Wake Forest on Saturday in Winston Salem, Syracuse rolled into Big Monday against No. 2 Virginia with some momentum. The chance to make it back-to-back wins slowly faded in the second half. The Orange led by two at halftime, but got destroyed in the second half of a 79-53 loss.
Here’s what we’re talking about the day after the loss.
This team is dangerous: Yes, that’s right. Even after a second half meltdown at home, fans should still feel optimistic about the Orange. The first 20 minutes were awesome and further evidence that Syracuse can compete with anybody on any given day. Besides, odds are UVA won’t go 18-for-25 from three-point range if the two squared off again. Think about the three toughest teams SU has played this season: Duke, Virginia and North Carolina. Jim Boeheim’s bunch beat the Blue Devils, kept it close against the Tar Heels and led Virginia by two at halftime. Not to mention, Syracuse led at the half in each of those games. We’ve read this book before, and there’s a solid chance the Orange put it all together in the NCAA Tournament later this month.
Paschal looks great: One of many X-factors for SU, Paschal Chukwu put together one of his best games of the season on Monday night. The 7-foot-2 center finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Not bad for a guy that has been scrutinized at different times throughout the season. Like the rest of the team, the first half was more friendly to Chukwu than the second. Regardless, he’s strung together a few games in a row where he’s looked like a legit starting center in the ACC. Appreciate his play now, Syracuse, because things at the five spot might not be so pleasing next season.
Work to be done: While it looks like Syracuse is all but a lock for the NCAA Tournament, there is still plenty of value in the next week or so for the Orange. They’ll hit the road on Saturday for the final road game of the season against Clemson. After that, it’s off to Charlotte for the ACC Tournament. Syracuse needs to continue to find itself in order to hit the ground running in the big dance. An upset over a team like Duke in the ACC quarterfinals would be massive for the confidence of a team that has the potential to go a long way in March.