Syracuse basketball just delivered a shocking home loss to the reigning champion Virginia Cavaliers. In SU’s first ACC game of the year – a home matchup against UVA – an anemic Orange offense totaled a paltry 34 points. That was Syracuse’s worst scoring output since WWII.
After that loss, Syracuse defeated Georgia Tech before falling to Notre Dame and Virginia Tech by a combined five points. Well, thanks to a wonky schedule, the Orange face the Irish and Hokies again in the next 10 days. Could SU win the revenge games like it did against UVA?
For starters, neither Notre Dame nor Virginia Tech are nearly as talented as Virginia. The pack line defense, which Virginia runs, is probably the most difficult defense in college basketball. There’s a reason Tony Bennett was cutting down the nets at the end of last season. And if a young Syracuse team led by a freshman point guard can rip a win away from Virginia and its vaunted defense, it can beat Virginia Tech and a mediocre Notre Dame squad.
The Hokies look to be something of a paper tiger, with a 12-4 record. Besides an upset victory over Michigan State, Virginia Tech’s best win is against an average NC State team. Granted, Syracuse hasn’t proven to be good, even coming off the upset of Virginia. At this point, SU fans are clamoring for consistency, which may not happen this season.
Meanwhile Notre Dame is the second worst team in the ACC, just ahead of Wake Forest. However, the Irish match up very well against the Orange. ND’s best player is big man John Mooney who is averaging almost 16 points and 14 rebounds. Without Mooney, Notre Dame would be terrible. For Syracuse to defeat an inferior Notre Dame team, either Bourama Sidibe has to play well, or Syracuse needs solid outings from Quincy Guerrier and Jesse Edwards. The first time the Orange and Irish played, Mooney outrebounded Guerrier and Sidibe 16 to 14. Edwards didn’t play. Sidibe and Guerrier don’t necessarily need to score much against Notre Dame, but they can’t allow Mooney to rack up 28 points like he did the first outing.
SU didn’t fix any of its problems with its win over Virginia. But it proved that it could beat much better teams on the road. Now Syracuse has the opportunity for a couple more revenge games to gain momentum for the rest of conference play.