Syracuse caught the eye of the nation after its victorious week in the Bahamas, climbing to 14 in the AP Poll. Since then, the Orange have lost three out of five and have tumbled from the rankings. Following Syracuse’s loss to St. John’s, the Orange only received three top 25 votes, and this week, despite dispatching Cornell easily, Syracuse received zero votes.
This is obviously more due to what other teams did than what the Orange did. The biggest issue the Orange have with its 8-3 record is the teams that they lost to. Wisconsin has struggled this season, losing its head coach to retirement, and Georgetown and St. John’s have fallen to opponents like UNC-Ashville, NJIT and Incarnate Word.
Obviously, the Orange have to get to conference play at 10-3. Losing to either Montana State or Texas Southern would be a complete morale buster and a potential RPI nightmare. Winning their last two non-conference games is extremely unlikely to be enough to get the Orange back on the national radar, no matter the scores.
The good news for the Orange is that the conference schedule is just around the corner. While some tough games lie ahead, the Orange have every opportunity to prove to the country that they belong, at the very least, in the NCAA tournament.
This is one of the greatest reasons that Syracuse moved to the ACC. They will have, almost every week, the chance to show that they can compete with the nation’s best. If we want to take this back to the top 25, the Orange will certainly have a chance to crack the rankings again.
Tough road games against Pittsburgh and Miami are just around the corner and if the Orange pull off both games- assuming they finish up their non-conference schedule- they could be 12-3 with a road win against a ranked opponent. That would surely put them back in the mix for a top 25 spot and that is just a week before the Orange host one of the nation’s best in Boeheim’s return as UNC comes to the Dome.
The point is, while there is certainly room for improvement and the losses that the Orange have are starting to look worse and worse, Syracuse will have ample opportunity to play quality opponents. This team will most likely be streaky and one more streak like the one the Orange had to start the season and everything will look up in Central New York.