Syracuse will participate in the ACC tournament for the second time in school history and it all kicks off on Wednesday against old Big-East rival, Pittsburgh. Just for a little added interest, this game has essentially been deemed a playoff game. The winner will go to the NCAA tournament, the loser is likely headed to the NIT.
Syracuse has had several chances to secure its post-season destiny. The Orange lost at home to Pitt and lost on the road to Florida State. Had the Orange won either game, this would be a very different story. However, they sit at 19 wins and 9 conference wins, both one short of that magic ACC number when it comes to the big dance. They have one last chance to save the season.
So, what can the Orange do differently this time around against Pitt?
First things first, score. Last time out against the Panthers the Orange’s offense was stagnant to say the least. They finished the game with 52 points. That certainly won’t cut against any opponent. This is just the hard truth about this year’s team. They need to shoot the ball well to win. It may certainly come down to whether Trevor Cooney has one of his 2-9 shooting days or one of his 7-10 days. That is just the way this team goes.
Over the two meetings, Syracuse has shot 40% from the field against Pitt. That just won’t cut it on Wednesday. They shouldn’t need another 60% shooting day like they had against Florida State a few weeks back but they will need to be better than they have thus far against Pitt.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the other thing the Orange need to do is rebound. The Panthers have outrebounded the Orange 86-48 over the two previous meetings. The Panthers are a great rebounding team, one of the best in the ACC. It may be a stretch for the Orange to outrebound them but they simply cannot get completely dominated on the glass once again.
Syracuse has one last chance so save its season. Wednesday at noon the Orange and the Panthers will tip-off from Washington D.C. for the third time this season. It all comes down to this one game. There is no way around that. It is simple enough. Rebound and score. But it never is that simple.
If the Orange pull out the win against the Panthers, they will play UNC on Thursday at noon. I will be in D.C. for every game the Orange plays in the ACC tournament. Follow @Orangefizz on twitter for updates throughout the ACC tournament.