Two weeks ago the Orange were cruising and it looked like they would strut easily into the NCAA tournament, but the last two games have brought an old worry back and every game is now crucial. You could look to the “bracketology” and learn that Syracuse is still expected to be a tournament team, but all of that changes if Syracuse can’t beat a weak opponent at the Dome on Saturday.
After two ugly loses, Syracuse is sitting much less comfortably and has arguably slipped to the bubble. Now, the Orange have three games left on the schedule and, when looking at it from an objective point of view, Syracuse should win two of them.
The first of these two is Senior Day, a home game against N.C. State. This is more than a game that the Orange should win, it is one they probably have to win. After N.C. State, the Orange travel to Chapel Hill to play UNC and it is very, very hard to see them grabbing a win on Tobacco Road. As such, the N.C. State game becomes that much more important.
The way that the ACC has shaken out, Syracuse fans should feel very comfortable with making the tournament if the Orange win 10 ACC games. In all likelihood, that means the Orange have to beat N.C. State. On paper, this is not something that should worry Syracuse fans. The Wolfpack are 4-11 in conference play and wouldn’t be that good if they did not have the ACC’s leading scorer Anthony “Cat” Barber.
If the Orange can contain Cat, they should be able to beat the Wolfpack and get their ninth ACC win.
However, if Syracuse falls on Saturday, the wheels could completely fall off. That would mean three straight loses and, no doubt, incredibly low morale. Saturday presents a perfect opportunity for the Orange to snap out of its recent funk and get back on track to the tournament. In fact, it is probably a game they have to have to keep everything on track.