Happy New Year! Let’s hope that 2021 turns out better for SU Athletics than 2020. I figured before Syracuse’s season restarts, it would be worth it to take the pulse of Fizz Nation. This week’s mailbag is based off of a poll that was sent out earlier today. Remember, if you have a question/comment about SU basketball, hit us up on Twitter (@OrangeFizz) and keep an eye out for the weekly “MAILBAG” tweet.
First things first, a little business. Syracuse has switched opponents on Wednesday. The Orange were scheduled to play Florida State, but due to COVID-19 positives in the Seminoles’ program, SU now hosts Pitt.
The Panthers are 5-2 on the year, most recently losing to Louisville 60-52. Jeff Capel’s squad is without its leading scorer in Justin Champagnie, who is out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. Pitt’s guards Au’diese Toney and Xavier Johnson are the only other Panthers averaging double figures. The game tips at 4:30 on ACC Network. Now let’s get to the mailbag.
The way this season is going, it seems like anything could happen. The ACC isn’t as strong as it’s been in the past, and coronavirus is popping up left and right, distorting schedules and tournament resumes. Add that along with some Jekyll-and-Hyde performances from this Orange team, and the above outcomes are equally likely.
Finishing Top-Four in the ACC
As of right now, Syracuse is fourth in the ACC. Excluding Boston College, there is a ton of parity. North Carolina beat Notre Dame by one on Saturday, but lost to NC State. Duke, Florida State, Louisville and Virginia have all looked beatable. If Bourama Sidibe comes back strong, there is a possibility that the experience and three-point shooting of the Orange can carry them to a top-four finish.
Back to the Bubble
This is the most sensible scenario. While Syracuse’s shooting is good, it’s not good enough to carry them through a full conference slate. SU most likely will win the games it should, and lose to the “more talented” teams (i.e. Duke and Carolina). While the return of Sidibe will of course have a positive impact, the senior center won’t be able to handle UNC’s four NBA-caliber bigs or the versatility of UVA’s Jay Huff. A sixth-place finish won’t exceed expectations, but it could be enough for the selection committee come March.
Missing the Tournament
Syracuse’s three-point shooting would have to go extremely cold to miss the tournament, but it certainly could happen. There’s also the possibility that SU’s games could be postponed/canceled due to COVID, and at the end of the year, the Orange’s resume just isn’t filled out to committee standards.
Let’s take a look at some of your responses.
The Orange could certainly be an eight seed, especially if they make a run in the ACC tournament. That’s a great way for a team to propel themselves from the bubble to securely in the tournament. However, I’m pretty entrenched in the “Last 4 In” camp until further notice.