It was the Duke game that brought more national attention to Orange Nation. If Syracuse won that game, it was a serious national championship contender. And to top off that weekend, No. 1 Arizona lost and Syracuse moved into the top slot in the rankings.
The 24-0 Orange was nearly the 23-1 Orange, but that is not the case courtesy of Tyler Ennis’ buzzer-beater in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Now that Syracuse overcame what could have been a very likely loss because of the history of these two teams and Pittsburgh’s top priority of playing strong defense, it’s time to break down the rest of the season.
February 15 – NC State, Carrier Dome
Today’s game is at home. Syracuse has momentum coming off Ennis’ big game in Pittsburgh. NC state is coming off two straight wins against teams with losing records against conference opponents. T.J. Warren is the guy to watch out for. He’s the 6’8” forward for the Wolfpack. He averages 23 points per game and grabbed about seven rebounds. He will be tough for the Syracuse bigs and without Baye Keita, that’s one less guy to try to stop Warren. Syracuse wins, 25-0.
February 19 – Boston College, Carrier Dome
Although a home game against the worst team in the conference, don’t sleep on BC. Olivier Hanlan and Lonnie Jackson can hit the big three. But even with Hanlan, Jackson and even Ryan Anderson, the Eagles won’t be able to pull out the upset on the road. Syracuse wins, 26-0
February 22 – Duke, Cameron Indoor Stadium
Syracuse barely pulled out a win against the Blue Devils at home in front of a record crowd. Duke has climbed in the rankings and although that was not a “fluke” game for Syracuse, Duke will bring it, especially at home. If Keita’s injury is serious and he misses this game, Syracuse will have a tougher time, because he eats up minutes for Rakeem Christmas and Jerami Grant. With Jabari Parker’s physical and tough play on offense, that means more fouls. Duke has just as many weapons as Syracuse, but it seems like it’s more aggressive when it doesn’t have 36,000-plus Syracuse fans cheering against it. Even with Duke playing a tough game against UNC on February 20, it comes out on top. Duke wins, 26-1
February 24 – Maryland, Comcast Center
Syracuse will jump right back on the winning train. It has to know going into the Duke game that if that’s the game to lose, it will be that game. Maryland has lost against the good teams, but hasn’t really had any blowout wins by 20-plus points. It doesn’t have any serious weapon like a Parker for Duke, or even a Hanlan for BC. This is an easy win for the Orange, even if it’s on the road. Syracuse wins, 27-1.
March 1 – UVA, JPJ Arena
UVA may be one of the biggest surprises of the season. It has played extremely well in a very competitive conference and is ranked in the top 20. It has one loss in the ACC this season, and that was against Duke. The Cavaliers only lost by four to the Blue Devils—at Cameron Indoor. It’s beyond difficult to know what this game will bring. Obviously it will be tough, but it’s on the road. Looking at its schedule, it’s been pretty easy. The only ranked opponents it has played is Duke (L, 69-65), Pitt (W, 48-45), Wisconsin (L, 48-38) and VCU (L, 59-56). Syracuse wins, 28-1.
March 4 – Georgia Tech, Carrier Dome
This is the last home game of the season. Georgia Tech hasn’t played well this season and doesn’t play well against solid teams. This is an automatic win for Syracuse at home. One last chance for the fans to go out and thank the team for its incredible season and to wish it well as it goes to compete in the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament. Syracuse wins, 29-1.
March 9 – Florida State, Donald Tucker Center
The Seminoles may have demolished the Orange on the gridiron last fall, but this is basketball. Syracuse will win. Florida State has struggled this season to compete with big opponents, although it did beat VCU back in November. Syracuse wins, 30-1.
There you have it. The Duke game is the big one, but it’s not something to be surprised about. Playing a game at Duke during the regular season is probably harder than playing a team like Florida at a neutral site.
Posted by: Austin Pollack