On Saturday, Syracuse suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of FSU 80-77. This loss occurs right after another, to NC State last Tuesday. With these two results in the books, it could be hard the Orange to put together a good resume for the big dance. Here are a few takeaways from the loss in Tallahassee:
Two losses in a row is never good. However, two losses in a row is especially bad when they could mean the season is over. After NC State took over in the Dome on Tuesday most fans thought it was all over right then. A loss to the team Syracuse was battling for the 5t spot in the ACC probably meant things were done for, but if they didn’t lose hope then they definitely did after the Orange missed out on a great opportunity in gaining a massive win on the road against #8 FSU. The argument could be made that if SU beats Louisville on Wednesday night hope is still there, but it just doesn’t make much sense to give the Orange a shot after two losses like this.
The play of Buddy Boeheim over the team’s last two contests has sent out shockwaves of worry throughout Orange fandom. Against NC State, a game with indescribable tournament implications with the team’s most reliable scorer out due to an injury it seemed like Buddy was being given his chance to shine. Instead, he provided just 10 points on 15 shots, and against FSU things only got worse, 7 shots, 0 makes. The coach’s son seemed like he’s just lost out there, after such a great season leading up this point it’s crazy to think he could just lose it like that. If the Orange really do have a chance to save their season against Louisville, Boeheim is going to need to return and provide a spark to that offense. This team won’t survive without it because the defense they’re exhibiting isn’t the defense that SU fans have seen for 44 years. This year SU sits at 164th in the nation in points allowed, the last time it was below 100 was the 2016-17 season, which uncoincidentally was the last time the Orange missed the NCAA Tournament. Without Boeheim’s production back in the offense or someone to take his place, this team won’t survive.
It’s understandable when this team gets beat on the boards by a few because it doesn’t possess a phenomenal rebounder. Bourama Sidibe has struggled all season long and Marek Dolezaj can only do so much at a measly 180 pounds. To get beat by 15 rebounds, however, is unacceptable. 47-29 was the difference between SU and FSU on the boards on Saturday. At this point, it seems like Quincy Guerrier should be starting out there against talented athletic bigs instead of Sidibe. Guerrier proved he could do it too against NC State. In 37 minutes he had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double and only fouled 1 time! That seems like a clear solution to a problem the Orange have faced all season long.
It might all be over for Syracuse, but that doesn’t mean stop trying. If Buddy Boeheim can return to form against Louisville and SU can show up in the rebounding battle the Orange might have a chance to steal one against a really good Cardinals squad and force their way into the tourney.